If you own rental properties in New York City, you might want to tell your tenants to leave the doors unlocked this week. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) might be breaking in if you do not. The NYC Department of Investigation revealed early last week that NYCHA has been falling down on the job when it comes to lead paint inspections “for years,” and now the agency is scrambling to make up for lost time by conducting a rapid-fire series of inspections that require tenants to be home between highly specific hours generally considered to be in the middle of the conventional work day.
What Tenants Were Told
NYCHA told tenants in one community that the agency would “exercise the right to enter” if they were not home between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday, November 27, 2017. Officials added that they would remove and then replace damaged door lock and that tenants could pick up keys for the replacement locks no later than 4:30 p.m. or pick them up after that at the local police precinct.
According to a NYCHA spokeswoman, the “not-at-home” policy, as it is dubbed, has “been in place for years” although it is not commonly exercised. Furthermore, she added, tenants should have spare keys in place with their landlords or property managers so that NYCHA can easily access the building without breaking the lock. However, tenants say they received notice of the inspection only at the very last minute and in some cases, it came in languages they do not speak or read, such as Spanish.
The Department of Investigations found that about 55,000 at-risk rental units have gone uninspected for years after NYCHA stopped inspections for lead paint in 2013. NYCHA’s chairwoman submitted annual paperwork as recently as last year indicating that the lead checks had been performed, even though she later admitted that she knew the claim was untrue. It is unclear why she might have done this. But if you own an older rental unit or apartment building offering affordable housing in any of New York’s five boroughs, you might want to be ready to replace your locks this week.