NYC Landlords Have Until 2025 to Install Natural Gas Detectors in Apartments

A New Rule to Prevent Gas Explosions

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued a final rule that requires landlords of residential buildings with three or more units to install natural gas detectors in each apartment by May 1, 2025. The rule also applies to condos, co-ops, and hotels. The only buildings that are exempt from the requirement are those that do not use any natural gas.

The rule stems from a local law passed by the City Council in 2016, following a series of deadly gas explosions in Manhattan that killed four people and injured dozens more. The law mandated the DOB to create the rule once a national standard for gas detectors was developed, which happened in 2022.

The DOB says that natural gas detectors can make a big difference in protecting New Yorkers from the potential dangers of a gas leak. The detectors should be installed at least 3 feet away, but not more than 10 feet away, from gas appliances in order to prevent false alarms. The detectors must be kept in working order and adhere to the National Fire Protection Association’s standard.

Natural Gas Detectors
Natural Gas Detectors

The Impact of the Rule on Landlords and Tenants

The DOB estimates that the rule will affect nearly 90 percent of buildings in the city, which means that millions of apartments will need to have natural gas detectors installed in the next four years. The cost of the detectors ranges from $15 to $60, depending on the model and features. The DOB says that the cost is reasonable and comparable to the cost of smoke detectors, which are already required by law.

Landlords who fail to comply with the rule will face penalties of $10,000 per violation, plus $1,000 per month for each month that the violation persists. Tenants who notice that their landlords have not installed the detectors or have installed defective ones can report them to the DOB by calling 311 or using the DOB NOW app.

Tenants are also advised to check their gas appliances regularly and report any signs of a gas leak, such as a rotten egg smell, a hissing sound, or a dead or dying houseplant. If a gas leak is suspected, tenants should immediately evacuate the building and call 911.

The Benefits of the Rule for Public Safety and the Environment

The rule is expected to enhance public safety and prevent tragedies like the ones that occurred in East Harlem and the East Village in 2014 and 2015. According to the DOB, there have been 38 gas-related incidents in the city since 2010, resulting in 10 fatalities and 132 injuries.

The rule is also expected to have positive environmental impacts, as natural gas is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, natural gas accounts for 40 percent of the city’s carbon footprint. By detecting and fixing gas leaks, the city can reduce its emissions and improve its air quality.

The rule is part of the city’s efforts to promote gas safety and sustainability, along with other initiatives such as the Get Sheds Down plan, which aims to remove long-standing sidewalk sheds in front of buildings where repair work has been delayed, and the Periodic Inspection for Parking Structures program, which requires periodic inspections of parking structures in certain areas of the city.

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