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By: Jose Santos

November 24, 2020

Property owners are responsible for maintaining various areas surrounding their buildings and/or properties, including sidewalks. According to Section 7-210 of the New York City Administrative Code, property owners must keep sidewalks in front of their property, as well as sidewalks abutting their property, in “a reasonably safe condition” for public use. This means that the sidewalks must be clear of snow, ice accumulation, vegetation overgrowth, and dirt, as well as undergo repairs when they are damaged. The primary purpose of this code is to exempt the City of New York from any liability due to injuries caused by the Property Owner’s failure to meet their obligations.

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) inspects sidewalks throughout New York City to ensure that there are no dangerous or unsafe conditions. They enforce the law through the issuance of incompliance violations. A violation may be issued for a myriad of reasons, such as tripping hazards, cracked or loose sections within the sidewalk, improper slope, faulty patchwork, or loose appurtenances. If a utility company or contractor damages the sidewalk, the Property Owner is still responsible for documenting the damage and ensuring that the proper repairs are made. Photographic and/or video documentation are highly recommended and extremely prudent when coordinating repairs. Regardless of who is responsible, the violation will remain open with the NYC DOT until there have been satisfactory repairs. Unlike fees that accrue when certain violations are issued due to a deficiency on a building, if the liable party does not perform the sidewalk repairs within 75 days, the NYC DOT may hire a private construction firm to complete the required work. When this happens, the NYC Department of Finance will bill the Property Owner for the cost of the repairs.

Some sidewalks are eligible for repair by the NYC Parks “Trees & Sidewalks Program”. If a sidewalk is damaged by tree roots adjacent to one, two, and three-family homes in NYC Tax Class 1, and meet the pedestrian traffic and damage requirements, the Property Owner may not have to pay for the repair work. It is worth noting that this program has limited funds and all potential repair locations are prioritized by the city agency.

There are countless codes, rules, and regulations in place in New York City and it is the duty of a property owner to learn them and comply with them. Whether there are violations or not, these ordinances are implemented for one important reason: to keep the public safe. Should you have questions about codes, your sidewalk, or your building, always reach out to a professional for guidance; we are here to help.

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