- or Safe with a repair and maintenance program
- or Unsafe.
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.
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 buy property, 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 that and more as you read this article. So get ready to learn everything you need about FISP/Local Law 11.
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. Local Law 11 was an update to Local Law 10, the original measure passed by the Mayor’s office to address pedestrian safety.
This Local Law 11 set much stricter requirements as to inspection requirements. Several public safety 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 12″ or fewer walls 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.
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 dangerous conditions immediately and repair them within 30 days.
Regarding FISP, a facade refers to a building’s face (exterior walls, windows, etc.) Remember 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:
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. The QEWI must offer a specific month and year to rectify the condition in the technical report.
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.
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.
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 that were previously unknown. During a FISP inspection, the inspector does not limit his work to ensure the building complies with FISP, and they can also note any other deficiencies.
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, and this could be a good indicator that you might find other issues.
As alluded to above, FISP inspections must occur once every five years, insinuating a 5-year cycle for each inspection. Each cycle contains three 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 reports.
It makes it easier for FISP inspections to be done quickly along the same block. This is when buildings nearby have the same owner or use the same inspector.
As of 2021, authorities completed the most recent cycle called Cycle 8. This cycle began in February 2015 and ran through until February 2020. New York is within Cycle 9 and subcycles 9A, 9B, and 9C. Cycle 9 started on February 21, 2020, and will run for five years through February 20, 2025.
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 on February 21, 2020, and will run through February 21, 2022. This first subcycle includes buildings with block numbers 4, 5, 6, and 9. Subcycle 9B will begin on February 21, 2021, and run through February 21, 2023.
This second subcycle includes buildings with block numbers 0, 7, and 8. Subcycle 9C will begin on February 21, 2022, and run through February 21, 2024. This final subcycle includes buildings with the block numb