Why HPD Signs Are Vital to Your Mission as a Property Owner or Manager
In New York City, whether you sublet a single rental unit or an entire apartment building, knowing which Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) rules apply to you is one of the most important steps to being productive, as well as providing a legal, safe and comfortable living space for your tenants. Understanding and complying with all relevant HPD rules is often the key to avoiding big fines — penalties that can quickly eat up both your time and profits.
One of the best ways to stay in the good graces of city hall with your HPD compliance is by purchasing and correctly posting the proper types of HPD signage in vestibules and mailbox areas. Let’s start out by outlining a couple of examples. These will illustrate just what can happen if you don’t follow HPD sign rules:
Hitting You Where it hurts — in the Wallet
Penalties for violating HPD and other housing-related statutes can add up and cost you a bundle. New York is an expensive enough place to do business without having to deal with a big load of pricey fines:
Housing Information Guide: While most non-hazardous penalties are $10 to $20 per violation, failure to post a notice on the information of the NYC Housing Information Guide — also known as “the ABCs of Housing” — can rack up a whopping $250 for every instance of non-compliance.
Non Smoking Signs: Failure to ensure your renters are complying with both the New York State Clean Air Act and the New York City Smoke Free Air Act can result in fines of up to $2,000 per infraction! The best way to make sure all your residents and their guests know not to light up in common areas of the building — such as hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms and most outdoor areas — is with clearly marked no-smoking signs.
Don’t Ruin Your Good Name
If those two reasons aren’t enough to make you think twice about following HPD housing rules, remember that your bank account isn’t the only thing that can suffer from having too many violations. Your very reputation can be ruined by appearing on the NYC Public Advocate’s “Worst Landlord’s List”. The Public Advocate is a citywide elected position, and is actually first in line to succeed the mayor. The office is intended to serve as a go-between for New Yorkers and city government — an office that is also known as an ombudsman or watchdog.
According to the Office of the Public Advocate website, the list serves as an “information-sharing tool intended… to identify which residential property owners consistently flout the City’s laws intended to protect the rights and safety of tenants. Buildings on the watch list have, on average, the highest levels of open HPD violations per unit, per month.”
Keeping Your Tenants Healthy and Safe With Covid-19 Signs
HPD is now requesting all landlords to prominently display the latest Covid-19 signage in their buildings, in order to prevent the spread of this deadly form of Corona Virus. The most recent version of the flyer was created on March 15 and is translated into 22 different languages.
An example of a Covid-19 Flyer
In addition to posting informational signage, the city has also posted guidelines on how to properly clean and disinfect the surfaces of your buildings’ surfaces. They recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning products, as well as focusing your daily disinfecting efforts on “high-touch surfaces” in highly trafficked common areas of the building.
According to HPD, high-touch surfaces include “doorknobs, light switches, handrails, kitchen appliances, countertops, drawer handles, tables, sinks, faucet and toilet handles, drinking fountains, elevator buttons, push and pull plates on doors, phones, keys and remote controls”.
In order to ensure your surface disinfectants are as effective as possible, the city recommends that building staff clean dirt, dust or grime off before disinfecting. They also ask building management do the following:
- Use a disinfectant that is effective against the virus that causes COVID-19, such as bleach, peroxide or an alcohol-based product. You can consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for a list of approved cleaning agents.
- If you’re disinfecting with a diluted bleach solution, check the product’s expiration date. You can add 4 teaspoons of bleach to 1 quart or 1 liter of water. Remember to never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Make sure to properly ventilate the area.
- If you’re disinfecting with a 70% alcohol solution, wipe the surface or object thoroughly with the solution and let it dry completely.
Once an area has been cleaned, it may be a good idea to let your tenants know with a sign. The notification can state that an area has been disinfected; along with the date and/or time it was completed. This type of signage can go a long way in offering building residents and guests more peace of mind — by letting them know that management both runs a tight ship and cares about their well-being.
You can add a whiteboard or simple piece of paper under this sign to list the times an area has been cleaned
HPD: More than what it used to be
In last few years, new anti-smoking legislation along with the more recent Covid-19 pandemic have expanded the definition of just what an HPD sign is. In addition to posting information about the boiler room, the superintendent and a framed inspection certificate, signage now includes information that more directly deals with the health of your tenants. These can be seen a reflection of a trend of increased partnership between the public and private sectors, in order to tackle various public health crises head-on.
Keeping residents informed is not only good for them. It can also benefit the building owner. After all, a healthy tenant has a better chance at being able to pay their rent — and a happy tenant who feels taken care of is more likely to pay on time. For more information on the types of HPD signs required for your buildings, check out our other blogs or shop here for the most up to date NYC regulatory signage.
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