February 21, 2005 signaled the commencement of the sixth cycle of New York City's façade inspection laws: Local Laws 10 (1980) and 11 (1998), now referred to collectively as Local Law 11.
It has been a full quarter-century since New York City's initial façade inspection law was signed into law by Mayor David Dinkins on February 21, 1980. Over the years, the requirements of the law have evolved, and building owners and managers have diligently adapted to new procedures. However, as a result of a seemingly innocuous change instituted seven years ago under Local Law 11, Cycle 6 is treacherously different from all previous cycles.
The purpose of this article is to outline an action plan so that co-op and condo board members, with the participation of their management firms and inspecting professionals can successfully navigate Cycle 6. While there may be procedural complexities involved, the basic concepts resulting in successful Cycle 6 compliance are simple.
In March 1998, under Local Law 11, the City Council promulgated several changes that effectively removed exemptions and tightened the city's façade inspection law. The changes became effective during Cycle 5, which closed in February 2002. The crucial change affecting Cycle 6 was the deletion of the condition termed "Precautionary," and its replacement with "Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program," known by its acronym SWARMP. (The law requires that all observed conditions be classified in one of three categories: "Safe," "Unsafe," or SWARMP. Precise definitions of these terms are contained within the law.) The new term is defined:
"27-129 (d) (2) Safe condition with a repair and maintenance program. An architect or engineer shall not file a report of a safe condition with a repair and maintenance program for the same building for two consecutive filing periods unless the second such report is accompanied by his or her certification attesting to the correction of all conditions identified in the earlier report as requiring repair."