Is My Landlord Required to Provide Window Guards?

Originally posted on February 24, 2023 3:00 pm
Updated on February 13, 2023 11:51 am

New York City tenants consistently look for an apartment with large windows and copious amounts of natural light. However, families with small children must take extra precautions to keep them safe around windows. Small children can occasionally fall out of windows and sustain injuries, even when located on the ground floor. Landlords must provide window guards for New York City apartments that meet certain conditions. 

What Are Window Guards? 

Window guards are metal or aluminum frames attached to a window to prevent children from falling out. The guards have several bars with no more than four and a half inches of space between each bar. Window guards must not allow more than four and a half inches of space between the top, bottom, or side of the guard and the window frame. A landlord will screw the guard into place along the window frame.

Screens are not window guards, and all windows must be compatible with window guards. The NYC Health Department must approve of window guards that landlords use in their buildings. 

It is important to note that window guards specifically prevent children from falling out of windows. Manufacturers do not create them to prevent burglary and break-ins. Tenants concerned about break-ins should take extra measures to keep their apartments secure. 

What Apartments Require Window Guards? 

According to Local Law 57, an apartment must have window guards if a child under the age of ten lives in a unit that resides in a building with at least three dwelling units. Each window in the unit must have a window guard, including bathrooms and windows leading onto a balcony or terrace. 

Tenants do not need window guards on windows that provide direct access to a fire escape or serve as an escape route when located on the first floor of a multi-unit building.  

If children under ten years old reside in a building, all public hallway windows in that building must also have window guards. 

Does My Landlord Have to Provide Window Guards? 

New York City law requires landlords to provide window guards for qualifying apartments that meet the above conditions or to those who submit a written request. Landlords must then provide and install window guards. Tenants and occupants are not allowed to install window guards themselves. 

A landlord who does not provide, install, or maintain window guards fall subject to class C immediately hazardous violation. Landlords then have 21 days to act on the issue before receiving fines or disciplinary action. 

Landlords must keep up with the condition of window guards. They must fix any guards that need repair, and tenants should regularly check to ensure that guards remain securely attached to windows. If a guard feels loose or unsafe, the tenant should immediately contact their landlord. 

Designation of Child Under the Age of Ten

During a lease signing, a future tenant must designate if a child under the age of ten will live in the apartment. Any tenant or occupant can also submit a written request for window guards to their landlord, even if no children under the age of ten reside in the unit. 

Annual Notice Form

Between January 1st and January 15th of every year, landlords must provide their tenants with an annual notice form to indicate if children under the age of ten live in the unit. Tenants have until February 15th to submit the completed document. If tenants do not return the form, their landlord must visit the unit to confirm that no children under ten occupy the apartment. 

Can My Landlord Charge Me for Window Guards? 

Landlords are allowed to charge their tenants for the cost of acquiring and installing window guards. They cannot charge tenants for window guards if the unit already has them in place, even if the landlord decides to change or upgrade them at any point. If tenants become responsible for the cost of window guards, they must pay off the entire cost before moving out of the apartment. Tenants must pay the landlord any remaining balance as a lump sum before move-out. 

Payment Exceptions 

Tenants who receive public assistance either do not have to pay for window guards or can receive reimbursement if they fall under any of the following criteria, according to NYC Health

  • Receive public assistance
  • Hold a Section 8 certificate
  • Receive a Senior Citizen Rent Increase (SCRIE) tax exemption
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Receive State payments under Section 209 of the Social Service Law.

What If My Landlord Doesn’t Install Window Guards? 

If your apartment qualifies for window guards and your landlord does not install them, or if they do not abide by your written request, you can call 311 to place a complaint. Tenants can also file a complaint online. Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has the authority to issue disciplinary action to landlords who do not comply with Local Law 57. 

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