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Are Landlords required to use licensed contractors.

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Are Landlords required to use licensed contractors.

Postby lawful tenant » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:44 pm

Are landlords required to use licensed contractors to make renovations in the apartment that they are required to do every 3 years?

Things like painting the apartment, re-glazing the bathtub, etc.?

Thanks
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:47 pm

For painting, etc., no.

For electrical or plumbing, they must be licensed as required by the Building Code.
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Could you provide links to the source of this info?

Postby lawful tenant » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:51 pm

Could you please provide links to the source of this info?

Thanks
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Postby concord » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:13 pm

Some building owners will get non-licensed guys to do electrical work. When it is completed a licensed electrician comes in and approves or certifies it in some official capacity.

I don’t know if the licensed electrician is declaring that he did the actual work or if he is declaring that he has merely observed that the work, which was done, is up to code.

Either way, I don’t know if handling things in such manner is appropriate.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:28 pm

Concord, that's not really a correct description.

In some cases work is done by unlicensed people.

What you are thinking of is that not every person who works for a licensed electrician (or plumber) has their own license. There can be one license for the contractor and he can have 20 unlicensed people working for him as apprentices, journeyman, etc.

DOB still has to sign off on the work -- although I've seen DOB people do sign-offs without actually looking at the work.
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Postby Sky » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:33 pm

RE: Electrical work. Legally the electrical contractor has to apply for and be issued a permit at the Dept. of Buildings before performing the work (a rare exception might be an emergency situation where the work is performed first, then the permit is applied for and issued). I've spoken with the electrical division at the DOB and was told that about the only work that can legally be done without a permit is to change a lightbulb or a faceplate. Anytime someone touches wires, they need a permit.

Regarding painting, repair, and renovation:
New EPA lead laws were passed and then went into effect in 2010 ('RRP Laws': Renovation, Repair, and Paint) which effects work done in older buildings. It requires that contractor firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects which disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA and that they use certified renovators who are trained in EPA-approved training programs (for which they will receive an EPA certification) to follow lead-safe work practices. This holds true whether or not children reside in the residence and these new EPA rules are different, and in addition, to the lead requirements under NYC Local Law 1.




http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead/pubs/renovation.htm
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:41 pm

You mean they can no longer use painters - most of whom do not speak English and who are paid to paint a room in 30 minutes? Yes, I've seen them do an entire 15 x 15 foot room in 30 minutes, painting over light switches and electrical outlets.

Is this so for all painters, just old buildings, buildings of a certain size, what?

And how does one enforce this requirement on landlords?

How can one find out if they are certified?
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Postby Sky » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:53 pm

To further clarify my above post. As an example, if over the course of a few months the LL were to disturb an accumulative total of 6 sq./ft. or more of wall surface in an apartment (built prior to 1978) legally the firm and worker would need to be EPA RRP certified. These are not NYC or NYS laws but new federal laws in response to increasing environmental contamination from lead.

So for example, say you had a leak in your ceiling and they needed to scrape a 3' x3' area of water damaged paint/plaster in order to make the repair. Unless they hired an EPA certified firm to take paint samples and then had those samples analyzed by an EPA certified lab with a negative finding for lead, they would need to use EPA RRP certified firm/worker to make the repair. Part of the new rules involves publically posting notification to tenants in the building that an area of potential lead hazard is being disturbed, notifying the tenant of the residence with a brochure, safe work practices involving wet sanding and other techniques, use of a HEPA vacuum to clean the dust, and safe disposal of the lead contaminated waste done in a certified manner, etc.

So, if you are concerned that the LL is sending under qualified chumps who do crap work and make a mess of you apartment, you may not be able to demand a licensed contractor: but you can demand an EPA certified contractor, which is more trouble than most unlicensed chumps will go through. You could also very likely enforce this in an HP court, although I am not yet aware of a case which involves it.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:15 pm

Let's say a room in your apt needs painting and you make a request to the LL, you agree with the LL on a date/time for the painting to occur. You move furniture in anticipation, you take a day off from work. They show up and you ask to see their EPA certification. Granted the LL is dumb or will play dumb.

What do you do?
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:20 pm

To interject, I ran this past an expert in the lead paint issue. He says Sky is correct (as to the inability of EPA to enforce).

He says for more information, see page 23 of his training manual on lead paint laws and the comparison chart at page 181, available at
www.nmic.org/nyccelp/documents/lead-training-manual.pdf
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Postby Sky » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:27 pm

TenantNet wrote:You mean they can no longer use painters - most of whom do not speak English and who are paid to paint a room in 30 minutes? Yes, I've seen them do an entire 15 x 15 foot room in 30 minutes, painting over light switches and electrical outlets.


I have lived in that place. Also painting over all kitchen cabinet hardware and painting the cabinets doors shut, painting over lightbulbs, doorknobs, dripping paint all over floor, furniture, dishes, etc. etc, etc......

TenantNet wrote:Is this so for all painters, just old buildings, buildings of a certain size, what?

And how does one enforce this requirement on landlords?

How can one find out if they are certified?



Go to the provided link and peruse the EPA website. It is called RRP Certification (Renovate, repair, paint). I believe the law is for buildings built in 1978 or earlier, and it is nationwide.

The EPA has it's own enforcement arm, but it is severely underfunded and weak (at least as of one year ago). EPA maintains a searchable online database of RRP certified firms, but the last time I checked, it was a voluntary registration process to be listed and wasn't a conclusive list. One can check with the EPA Lead Team and the EPA field office for their region (US EPA Region 2 covers NYC). One can call the EPA Lead Team to get confirmation if a LL, building manager, super, porter, and outside contractors (both DOB licensed and unlicensed) are EPA RRP certified. One can also do a FOIA request to check if any parties are certified and/or receive a copy of the issued EPA Certificate.


Once certified, they will be issued an EPA license which they can present to the tenant ... or to a judge;-). A tenant can inquire (i.e., send the LL a letter) notifying them of upcoming repair work and the EPA regulations, and inquire if the firm and individual they intend to use are EPA certified, and demand that they bring proof of certification with them. Once can check with the EPA field office and have them do a search. The rules are new on the books and the administration is therefor still being evolved and implemented (in fact, they declared a several month extension to the deadlines for firms to become certified in 2010). Further, one can make a complaint to the EPA if they believe there is a violation (again, as of 2010 enforcement was underfunded).

Understand that there are two types of EPA Lead certification and their distinction: a) The standard EPA Lead abatement certification which a lead contractor will need to have to perform a lead abatement project in NYC, for example in conjunction with Local Law #1, and b) the EPA Renovate, Repair, Paint (RRP) certification. These two do not overlap and are not interchangeable. The statutes and rules concerning RRP are different than a lead abatement, so someone working in the lead abatement field would need to also acquire the RRP certification in order to perform RRP work.


There are plenty of resources online on EPA RRP.

Do an online search for 'EPA Renovate Right Brochure'

Have a look at:
Code of Federal Regulations EPA, LEAD, PART 745

PART 745—LEAD-BASED PAINT POISONING PREVENTION IN CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL STRUCTURES


There are also some short videos online targeted to building managers, contractors, and tenants that provide very useful info.
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Postby Sky » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:46 pm

TenantNet wrote:Let's say a room in your apt needs painting and you make a request to the LL, you agree with the LL on a date/time for the painting to occur. You move furniture in anticipation, you take a day off from work. They show up and you ask to see their EPA certification. Granted the LL is dumb or will play dumb.

What do you do?



That depends on the circumstances.

If one is in litigation, for ex. court ordered repairs, one could insist of the LL's compliance with the EPA laws or threaten to restore the case to the court.

One could state in writing when scheduling the access dates that EPA RRP certified worker/firm must be used and demand to be notified which EPA certified firm/worker they will be using prior to the access date. In the interim, call EPA and have them confirm certification. Then demand to see ID from the workers and if they can not provide an EPA certificate, they could refuse to permit the work from being performed. Take plenty of pics. Write the LL a letter with this and also citing the EPA RRP law and demand that the LL use workers that comply with the law. YMMV.

The laws are not only to protect the tenant in whose apt. work is being performed, but also other tenants, for ex. to protect infants and toddlers from careless workers who leave dust and debris throughout the building's hallways, stairs and handrails, elevators, etc. and potentially spread lead contamination.
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Postby Sky » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:13 pm

Enforcement is always an issue. Even for basic rights in the USA Constitution.


The rules and laws for the EPA RRP exist and are now in effect. They may be of help for some tenants who wish to go to the effort to challenge the way the work is being performed. Like many LL/T situations, if the tenant is diligent and insistent she may get some traction out of the RRP which could translate into a safer caliber of work (which are what the rules were designed for) and possibly a higher caliber of work as a consequence.


Further, if the work in the apt does indeed demand a licensed contractor, the threat of reporting him to the EPA (i.e. a demand for his EPA RRP certification made via certified mail prior to the work's inception) may in itself force compliance to RRP laws. I can say from personal experience that the same contractors who performed work in my building over the course of a few years went being complete pigs and contaminating the building with dust, drawing complaints from several tenants resulting in both Dept. of Health and DOB violations, to working more diligently with concern for the tenants' property and health, to gaining RRP certification and using HEPA vacs and overall being more conscious of how they worked. It made them better contractors and probably also improved their health and safety and the health and safety of their workers.
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