What Landlords Should Know about HPD Violations: Part One

The reality of being a landlord is that things can (and will) go wrong with properties you own — and you’ll have to assume responsibility for making them right again. While a broken ceiling tile can almost certainly wait till the weekend, other fixes require an immediate response. When those more serious concerns aren’t addressed in a timely manner, even the most diligent of landlords might find themselves hit with a violation from the New York City HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development). These violations vary in severity and can range from a $10 daily fine after 90 days to those in the hundreds of dollars for large, multi-unit buildings.

How to avoid getting fined by the HPD

Whether you became a landlord through inheriting a single home or actively built a portfolio or properties, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself on what HPD is on the lookout for when evaluating potential violations. 

This HPD violations checklist is a simple, downloadable PDF that outlines both general and room-by-room issues you’ll want to be aware of. These range from those classified as Class-A “non-hazardous” transgressions, like a fallen apartment door number, to the more pressing Class B violations (think rats and roaches) to immediate threats to safety — a broken refrigerator or flooring. 

In a city where even a “non-uniform” paint job in the kitchen can warrant a notice in the mail, it’s just good business to be proactive about the state of your property.

How the HPD even gets involved in the first place (and how to tell if you’re in violation)

A functional fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a minor incident and a catastrophe in a fire. Make sure yours is up-to-date and easily a

Many landlords could go a lifetime without incurring a violation while others may feel like they’re constantly dealing with them. Obviously, unsafe or unhealthful conditions like those described above are your responsibility to prevent but two other factors are at play that are sometimes overlooked. Firstly, New York City has (for good reason) some incredibly strict rules and regulations for its landlords. If you’re a first-timer or a new owner in the city, many of these may not have even occurred to you and you don’t want ignorance of them to come back and bite you.

But one of the biggest connections between HPD and its involvement in your business has to do with tenant complaints. If a tenant raises a valid issue, it’s vital to stay in good communication with them, so be sure to outline (and then follow through on) a repair plan so that they don’t escalate the issue to 311. These 311 complaints will quickly put you on HPD’s radar and in a position to incur fines if you’re not on top of things. 

Unsure if you have violations? There are a few simple ways to check. Notices of Violations (NOVs) are mailed to the managing agent of record. If that’s you, make sure HPD has your most recent address or, if someone is handling your mail for you, make sure you’re checking in with them often. 

If you’re the more proactive type, you should check the Buildings Information System (BIS) for open violations. You’ll search by address. Keep in mind that this is no exclusive, landlord-only site. If information about your violations is open for you to find, that means anyone else (from current and prospective tenants to neighbors and friends) can see the same. It’s just good practice to get in the habit of checking the site every few months. 

In part two of this series, we’ll delve into the realities of remedying HPD violations and how to manage them as efficiently as possible. Still need some help? Get in touch! We’d love to lend you a hand!


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