Everyone likes to think that they are safe all the time, but often people take for granted that everything in their condo or co-op is up to snuff and they forget about simple things like changing batteries in smoke detectors or securing window guards. One look through the morning papers and you will read about someone who neglected to take a proper safety measure in their home.
Then there are the more advanced safety precautions that owners and boards need to worry about, such as asbestos removal, lead paint and installing carbon monoxide detectors. There are laws that govern the way that co-ops and condos should go about making sure all of these things get done, and organizations that inspect and find those that aren't. But it's important that anyone living in a co-op or condo know what they are expected to do, and what someone else is expected to get done for them.
"When it comes to condos in the city, unit owners are responsible for complying with regulations dealing with window guards, smoke detectors, asbestos removal and lead paint abatement inside the unit," says Richard Walsh, an attorney with the Long Island-based Horing, Welikson & Rosen, P.C. "The board is responsible for repairs and other health and safety laws regarding common elements."
In co-ops, since the board is listed as the owner rather than the individual units, it is the responsibility of the co-op to install window guards, smoke detectors, check for asbestos, lead paint and do any repairs to building exteriors, including facades.
Measures concerning all of these safety items are defined in the New York City Housing Maintenance Code (HMC), which is established by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).