What Is Local Law 55 and What Does It Require?

Local Law 55 of 2018 states that landlords and property owners in NYC are responsible for keeping their buildings free of mold and pests.

Last year, enforcement of Local Law 55 requirements was temporarily stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this year the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is prepared to crack down on compliance.

Here’s what you need to understand about Local Law 55 and how to avoid costly violations.

What is Local Law 55?

Local Law 55 (“The Asthma-Free Housing Act”) is a set of rules requiring landlords of multiple-dwelling buildings to keep their tenants’ homes free from indoor allergen hazards — specifically mold and pests.

It was passed by the New York City Council on January 19th, 2018 (and took effect on January 19th, 2019) in response to concerns about indoor air quality and rising asthma rates in NYC.

Landlord responsibilities are aimed at mitigating the presence of 3 of the most common sources of indoor allergen hazards:

  • Mold
  • Rodents (Mice and Rats)
  • Cockroaches (plus other Insects)

To ensure safe and habitable living conditions for tenants and their families, landlords must proactively investigate and remediate these indoor allergen hazards. This also includes fixing any underlying defects, or building conditions that may cause or contribute to the growth of mold or pests.

Local Law 55 Compliance Requirements

If you are a landlord or owner of a residential multiple-dwelling building, meaning 3 or more apartments, you must abide by Local Law 55. Failure to comply may result in costly violations, tenant complaints, and potential litigation.

Here are the 5 primary requirements, according to HPD’s Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services (ENS).

  1. Vacant apartment units must be cleared of all visible mold and pest infestations prior to re-occupancy by a new tenant. Landlords must inspect and use safe work practice and integrated pest management to remediate existing mold or pest problems, in addition to underlying defects (e.g. leaks).
  2. An annual inspection for indoor allergen hazards is mandatory for all apartment units. In addition to annual inspections, landlords are required to conduct additional inspections in response to tenant complaints and HPD violations. Records of inspections must be kept on file for each unit.
  3. Landlords must provide tenants with an annual notice and DOHMH’s Local Law 55 fact sheet. This includes both prospective tenants as well as current tenants at the time of lease renewal.
  4. Integrated pest management practices must be used to address pest infestations. If pesticide use is required, it must be applied by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)-licensed pest professionals.
  5. Safe work practices must be used to address mold issues. If there are 10+ square feet of mold in a residential building with 10+ units, the landlord is required to hire a New York State Department of Labor (DOL)-licensed mold assessor and remediator.

Annual Indoor Allergen Inspections for Local Law 55

Local Law 55 inspections require a careful visual inspection of all readily accessible areas in the building, along with moisture, temperature, and infrared camera readings. Areas that should be inspected include residential units, common areas, utility rooms, and basements.

The landlord or inspector should look for the presence of mold, pests, and underlying defects. Common examples of underlying defects to pay attention to are leaks, moisture intrusion, and access/entry points for pests.

An inspection report must be filled out for each apartment unit, detailing the findings and recommended remedial actions. These reports must be kept on file. A sample report template from HPD can be found here.

According to HPD, there are no required qualifications to conduct these annual inspections. However, investing in hiring a skilled professional means a more comprehensive inspection. You’re more likely to detect mold and pest problems early on, potentially saving thousands of dollars in damages, fines, and remediation costs.

Providing Annual Notice and Fact Sheet

With every new lease or lease renewal, landlords must provide tenants with the following 2 documents:

Addressing Pest Infestations

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to pest control that emphasizes long-term, eco-friendly, preventative solutions.

According to the EPA, “IPM is not a single pest control method but rather involves integrating multiple control methods based on site information.” These IPM practices must be used by landlords when controlling pests:

  • Inspecting for and removing pest nests, waste, and debris using High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuuming
  • Eliminating sources of water for pests by repairing drains, faucets, and other plumbing materials
  • Using pesticides sparingly, and only when applied by NYS-licensed pest professionals
  • Keeping pests out by repairing cracks, eliminating harborage, and sealing entry points for pests

At MMPC, our licensed pest professionals have 25+ years of experience helping New Yorkers keep their homes and buildings free from pests. We were also one of the first companies to adopt the Integrated Pest Management approach in New York.

Need help correcting an LL55 violation or addressing a pest infestation in NYC? Contact us today!

Addressing Mold Conditions

Many species of mold release spores or toxins into the air — especially during cleanup — which can be harmful to people when inhaled. Therefore, Local Law 55 requires safe work practices to be used when dealing with mold, including:

  • Investigating and correcting underlying defects (e.g. moisture, leaks)
  • Minimizing the dispersion of dust and debris during cleanup
  • Using HEPA vacuum-shrouded tools or a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter at the point of dust generation
  • Cleaning mold with soap or detergent and water
  • Cleaning any remaining visible dust from the work area using wet cleaning methods or HEPA vacuuming

If there are 10 or more square feet of mold in a building with 10 or more apartment units, it must be addressed by trained and licensed professionals. The property owner must hire two separate and independent contractors — an NYS-licensed mold assessor and an NYS-licensed mold remediator.