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Window guards in NYC

Authored By: New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal

Each year, young children are injured or die in falls from unguarded windows. The NYC Health Code requires owners of buildings of three or more apartments to provide and properly install approved window guards on all windows in an apartment where a child (or children) 10 years of age or younger reside and in each hallway window. Tenants with no children - or none living at home - may also request window guards if they want them for any reason.


Window guards must be properly installed according to DOH specifications in all windows, including bathroom windows. However, if the window provides access to a fire escape, it cannot have a window guard. For buildings with fire escapes above the first and ground floors, but none below, one window must be left unguarded.


How do I know if an apartment should have window guards?

Every year, from January 1-15, property owners must send or deliver to each tenant or occupant a DOH-approved form that notifies tenants of the window guard requirement. Then the tenant must complete the form and return it to the owner indicating whether or not children ten years old or younger live in the apartment, or if the tenant wants window guards for any reason.


Failure to follow this procedure by the owner or tenant is a violation of NYC Administrative Code (17-123). Owners are also required to attach a DOH-approved special lease Notice To Tenant (“Appendix A”) to all vacancy leases and all renewal leases.


The window guards and their installation must conform to DOH specifications or the owner will be in violation and ordered to replace or fix them. Only DOH-approved guards, properly installed, qualify for the temporary surcharges. DOH will supply owners with a list of approved manufacturers of window guards and specifications, upon request. 


Are window guards required in public areas?

Owners of multiple apartments are also responsible for installing window guards in public areas (e.g. hallways) if a child ten years old or younger lives in the building. The cost of window guards installed in public areas may not be passed on to tenants in the building.


Can a landlord charge a tenant for the window guards?

An owner of a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartment may collect a temporary surcharge from the tenant. The surcharge cannot be more than $10 per window guard.


The tenant can pay the surcharge all at once, or he or she can make a payment plan. The plan cannot be longer than three years. If a tenant leaves the apartment before the total surcharge is paid in full, the tenant must pay the balance immediately. The owner may deduct the remaining unpaid portion from the tenant’s security deposit.


Also, Only DOH-approved guards that are installed properly qualify for the temporary surcharges. Property owners should request a list of approved manufacturers of window guards and specifications from DOH.


Can a new tenant be charged for existing window guards?

No. When a new tenant moves into an apartment in which window guards were installed for the previous tenant, the new tenant may not be charged for them. If the window guards have been fully paid for and the owner replaces them due to the owner’s renovation or replacement of windows, a second surcharge in that apartment may not be collected from that tenant or any later one.


Can the surcharge be included in the base rent for the apartment? 

No. The first monthly installment may be collected on the first day of the month following installation, without an official order from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).


Are all tenants required to pay out of pocket?

No. Tenants who:

  • Receive public assistance;
  • Have Section 8 certificates;
  • Recieve a Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) or a Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE);
  • Recieve Supplemental Security Income (SSI); or
  • Recieve Section 209 payments

are not be required to pay the window guard charge out-of-pocket. They must, however, submit an itemized bill, printed on the property owner's stationary, to the Human Resources Administration who will reimburse the property owner after the window guards have been installed.


Recipients of SSI or Section 209 subsidies may contact their Social Services District Office with an itemized bill from the owner following the window guard installation.


Help getting window guards

If your landlord refuses to install window guards or if they are not properly installed, call 311.

Last Review and Update: Feb 20, 2016

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