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Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

Local Law 11 / FISP in NYC

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New York City is chock-full of high-rise buildings lining the streets as far as the eye can see. If you’re a property owner in NYC or looking to buyFISP law property, then you might have heard of Local Law 11 or the FISP program during your research. But what exactly is FISP or Local Law 11? We’ve compiled everything you need to know about FISP/Local Law 11. We will go over local law 11 frequency and engineer in NYC.

The NYC Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) was a.k.a Local Law 11. It requires NYC buildings taller than six stories to get their facades inspected and repaired every five years. FISP/Local Law 11 can affect you as both a property owner and a potential home buyer. So what to include in a FISP assessment, and what does that mean for you? You’ll find the answers to all of that and more as you read through this article. So get ready to learn everything you need to know about FISP/Local Law 11.

What is the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP)?

FISP, formerly known as Local Law 11, requires that buildings taller than six stories have exterior walls and appurtenances inspected everyfacade inspection local law 11 five years. Upon completion of the inspection, a building must file a technical report with the department of buildings classifying façade elements as either.
  1. Safe,
  2. or Safe with a repair and maintenance program
  3. or Unsafe.
Owners of Unsafe façade elements must address the issue immediately and repair it within 30 days. FISP ensures pedestrian safety by preventing bricks, concrete and other façade elements from falling on pedestrians.  Fourteen thousand buildings in NYC are subject to the FISP inspection protocol.  One can find the FISP inspection, reporting, and action requirements in RCNY (Rules of the City of New York) 103-04. Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances Buildings.

What is Local Law 11 in NYC?

Local Law 11 is the former name of what has become known as FISP (the Facade Inspection Safety Program). As the name implies, FISP has to do with inspecting the facades of buildings within NYC. As of 2021, over 14,000 buildings within New York City must have their facades reviewed and ensure that they comply with FISP. The Local Law 11 was an update to Local Law 10, the original measure passed by the Mayor’s office to address pedestrian safety.

Local Law 11 was passed by Mayor Giuliani in 1998 as an update to Local Law 10.

This Local law 11 set much stricter requirements as to inspection requirements. Several public safetylocal law 11 engineer events led to the passage of Local Law 11. In 1997, there was a partial building collapse on Madison Avenue. Previously, only the front façade and side walls up to 25 feet from the street required an inspection. Local Law 11 mandated the inspection of all four sides of a building. The only exception was for walls that are 12” or less from a neighboring building. Besides, Local Law 11 also mandated a physical inspection from scaffolding instead of a visual ‘binocular’ inspection from afar.

Local Law 11 also amended the report classifications from “pass” or “fail” to “safe,” “unsafe,” or “safe with a repair and maintenance program.” Authorities designed this law to ensure that buildings that required a repair and maintenance program would be addressed promptly.

An inspection occurs once every five years.

A New York State Registered Architect (RA) or NYS Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) conducts the inspection. The inspector is a QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector). If the inspector discovers unsafe conditions, he must notify the building owner and the Department of Buildings. Once the inspection is complete, the architect must file a critical examination report with the City’s Department of Buildings. The architect must document the exterior walls and appurtenances as either safe, unsafe, or safe with a repair and maintenance program in the report. Buildings are required to report all unsafe conditions immediately and repair them within 30 days.

So what is a facade?

Regarding FISP, a facade refers to a building’s face (exterior walls, windows, etc.) Keep in mind that a building’s face does not necessarily mean the front of the building. Rather any face of the building along the sidewalk or street below where people pass.

FISP is the NYC regulation that requires these buildings’ faces taller than six stories to inspect once every five years. The goal is to ensure that no bricks or pieces of the building’s face are in danger of falling off. It was put in place for obvious reasons. If brick or concrete falls from a six-story building onto a pedestrian on the sidewalk below, there can be severe injury or even death.

Following a FISP inspection, the building owner must submit a FISP compliance report to the city showing what classification the inspector has given their building. The report can either classify the property as safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program, or unsafe. Let’s take a deeper look at how NYC determines these classifications and what they mean:

  1. Safe— no problems with the building, everything is in good condition.
  2. Safe with a repair and maintenance program— requires repairs as noted within one to five years to prevent being classified as unsafe during the next FISP cycle.
  3. Unsafe— problems or defects that threaten public safety. Buildings classified as unsafe require immediate repair and public protection like a sidewalk shed.

If the report determines the facade is safe, the building does not require any facade work during the cycle. Facades designated as ‘SWARMP’ have the potential to become unsafe. However, the owner must not take immediate action. In the technical report, the QEWI must offer a specific month and year to rectify the condition.

What are appurtenances?

The law defines appurtenances as “exterior fixtures, flagpoles, signs, parapets, copings, guard rails, window frames, balcony enclosures, window guards, window air conditioners, flower boxes and any equipment attached to or protruding from the facade” (RCNY §103-04). FISP Cycle 8 also mandates the inspection of balcony railings.

What is Local Law 10?

Mayor Ed Koch passed Local Law 10 in 1980. He designed the first city ordinance to prevent the safety risks posed by the deterioration of building facades in the city. Authorities passed the ordinance after a falling piece of masonry killed a Barnard College freshman on the Upper West Side. Local Law 10 was subsequently replaced and broadened by Local Law 11 in 1998 and FISP in recent years to enhance the façade repair program’s safety.

Does FISP Affect Homebuyers in NYC?

If you’re looking to buy a home in NYC, you should get with your agent and have them determine the status of the building’s most recent FISP compliance. Your agent should find the building’s most recent report and determine when the next inspection is due. As a potential homeowner within the overall development, you are not responsible for the building’s compliance with FISP. Still, it’s essential to know if the building owner keeps up to date with the code.

FISP inspections can be expensive and can take a lot of time

If there’s one coming up soon, the landlord may want to raise rent to offset the additional cost. FISP inspections can also lead to other issues being found that were previously unknown. During a FISP inspection, the inspector does not limit his work to ensure the building complies with FISP. They can note any other deficiencies as well. If the condo, condop, or co-op you are buying into does not have sufficient reserves to pay for repairs, they may need to seek a loan, refinance or levy an assessment on unit owners.

If the building you’re thinking about buying a unit in is “unsafe,” you may want to consider finding a different place to live. This could insinuate that the owner does not put enough money into capital improvements. This could be a good indicator that you might find other issues.

When is the Next FISP/Local Law 11 Inspection Cycle?

As alluded to above, FISP inspections must occur once every five years, insinuating a 5-year cycle for each inspection. Each cycle then contains threelocal law 11 frequency subcycles within (A, B, and C).  The final digit of each building’s block number determines the subcycle. Having subcycles divided by block number allows building owners to know when they need to file their report. It makes it easier for FISP inspections to be done quickly along the same block. This is in the case buildings nearby have the same owner or are using the same inspector.

As of 2021, authorities completed the most recent cycle called Cycle 8. This cycle began in February of 2015 and ran through until February of 2020. Currently, New York is within Cycle 9 and subcycles 9A, 9B, and 9C. Cycle 9 began February 21, 2020, and will run for five years through February 20, 2025.

The subcycles of Cycle 9 are two years in length.

They have one year of overlap with the previous/next subcycle. It provides building owners with the corresponding block number ample time to get the inspection done and file the FISP report with the city.

Subcycle 9A began February 21, 2020, and will run through February 21, 2022. This first subcycle includes buildings with the block numbers 4, 5, 6, and 9. Subcycle 9B will begin February 21, 2021, and will run through February 21, 2023. This second subcycle includes buildings with the block numbers 0, 7, and 8. Subcycle 9C will begin February 21, 2022, and will run through February 21, 2024. This final subcycle includes buildings with the block numb



Written By: Georges Benoliel

Georges has been working in Wall Street for the last 16 years trading derivatives with hedge funds. He has been an active real estate investor for over a decade. Georges graduated from HEC Business School in Paris and holds a master in Finance from ESADE Barcelona.

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