Landlords face mandate to install safety devices

Bill would require grab bars for aging or disabled tenants, but provide tax break

New York /
Dec.December 17, 2019 02:40 PM
City Council member Justin Brannan (Credit: iStock)

City Council member Justin Brannan (Credit: iStock)

Landlords may soon need to pay for extra features to accommodate senior and disabled tenants — but the city would help foot the bill.

A bill sponsored by City Council member Justin Brannan would require multifamily landlords to install items such as grab bars in bathrooms and treads on apartment floors at the request of a senior or tenant with a disability.

Under the measure, depending on what’s installed, landlords would be eligible for property tax abatements of $250 to $800 per device. The abatement could not exceed the actual cost of purchasing and installing the devices.

The bill is in part a response to increasing demand for senior housing. According to the city’s Department for the Aging, New York’s 60-plus population is expected to hit 1.86 million by 2040, a 48.5 percent increase from 2000.

A report by the City Council’s Committee on Aging notes that the city doesn’t have enough affordable senior housing to meet current demand. Waiting lists for affordable senior housing range from seven to 10 years, the report says.

Jay Martin, president of landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, said his organization supports the measure.

“We would hope that owners are doing this already and wouldn’t need this,” he said. “It is nice that the Council is considering the economics.”

A hearing on the bill, which was first introduced in 2018, was held last week, an indication that it is moving closer to passage. Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, did not respond to requests for comment.


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