Tuesday, December 4, 2007

City beefs up enforcement of window guard regulations

Daily News
Tuesday, December 4th 2007, 4:00 AM

A new city regulation puts some muscle into the requirements for landlords to make sure apartments with young children have safety window guards installed.

Failure to install the guards will now result in a landlord being issued a violation by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Nine children under age 16 have been injured or killed so far this year because of unprotected windows, according to city records.

That is down from 48 in 1993, thanks to public awareness campaigns and more enforcement.

"We're trying to make it less bureaucratic, so the end result we're all aiming for gets done as quickly as possible," said HPD spokesman Neill Coleman.

Previously, only the Health Department could issue violations to landlords when inspectors spotted missing window guards. If the landlord did not install one within five days, the department would put a guard in and bill the owner.

Now, HPD, which spends more time in apartments, can also issue violations for the Health Department and install the guards. According to HPD's numbers, its inspectors spot about 1,000 windows each month that need safety guards.

Before the amendment passed at a Health Department meeting in October, HPD had been issuing "dummy" violations the department could not keep track of or follow up on.

"The new way is better. It isn't us issuing a violation that doesn't show up," Coleman said.

It is a landlord or homeowner's responsibility to install window guards in buildings with three or more units that have children 10 years and younger, or for any tenant who requests it.

Window guards are required on all windows except ones with fire escapes. Guards for fire escape windows must be FDNY-approved and installed by the tenant.

Window guard safety is a major priority for both departments.

"When our inspectors go in for any inspection window guards are one of the things they always check for," Coleman said.

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