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More for You to Do: Local Law 11 Adds Balcony Inspections

Jennifer V. Hughes in Legal/Financial on April 17, 2014

New York City

April 17, 2014

The change to LL 11 was prompted primarily by the horrific accident involving 35-year-old advertising executive Jennifer Rosoff. Relaxing on a date with a guest last summer, she sat on the railing of her apartment's balcony. Moments later, as newspapers reported, the guest heard "two cracks or pops" as the railing gave way. Rosoff plunged 17 stories to her death — and in the fallout from that incident, further inspections were mandated.

"Property owners are required to inspect the structural integrity of balcony railings and their components and ensure they are secured against upward movement by welds, bolts or screws," says Department of Buildings (DOB) spokeswoman Kelly Magee.

And Not Just Balconies

Those buildings with balconies, terraces, roof decks, enclosures or fire escapes that filed their FISP for Cycle 7 now have until February 2, 2015, to file an addendum stating that those structures are safe. The DOB says that 13,500 buildings citywide filed in the seventh cycle, but it's unclear how many of those have balconies. As in many matters of inspections and local laws, buildings are faced with a familiar proposition: be overly cautious and spend a lot of money on an inspection, or be a little more lenient and open yourself up to possible liability.

The change to include balconies in FISP was made official in May 2013 and is technically not a change to LL11, but an amendment to the requirements for technical reports. Additional amendments were outlined in a DOB memo to FISP consultants in September of 2013. "The new rule mentioned only balconies," says Stephen Varone, president of Rand Engineering & Architecture. "The [September] memo clarified that 'balconies' in this context included terraces, walkways, corridors, fire escapes, roof, and setbacks," among other things.


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