Governor Hochul Signs May/Zebrowski Bill Strengthening Building Code Violation Penalties

The law strengthens several measures to protect residents and first responders

Albany, NY — Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) announce that their bill to strengthen code violation penalties has been signed into law by Governor Hochul (S2884A/A362A). The measure imposes more significant fines for individuals that repeatedly violate the uniform building code and will deter future code violations.

Currently, any citation issued to a property owner for a violation of the uniform code has a 30 day “cure” period for the property owner to correct the issue before being subject to any fines. After the cure period, the court may levy fines of up to $1000 per day that the violation continues uncured. However, these fines can technically be as low as a single cent. Far too often, municipalities are allowing code violations to languish for several months with token fines that are seen as the cost of doing business for owners.

The May/Zebrowski legislation enhances the current law by imposing a minimum fine of $25 a day after 180 days of a violation going uncured and a minimum violation of $50 a day after 360 days of an uncured violation. The maximum violation would remain $1000 per day.

The goal is to ensure not just compliance with building codes, but timely compliance. Allowing violations to continue in perpetuity with little to no consequence for property owners can carry grave consequences for residents and first responders. This law forces municipalities to prioritize code enforcement and to root out a culture of poor compliance.

“Across New York, many renters live under absentee landlords and fear that landlords will retaliate if they report code violations in their homes. This legislation has the teeth to hold repeat offenders accountable for their bad management practices by implementing increasing fines for failure to fix existing issues in their current properties. Everyone deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. I am proud to have worked with Assemblymember Zebrowski and Governor Hochul to make these important changes,” said Senator May.

“While the $1000 a day maximum is a severe penalty, the truth is, it is almost never used. In fact, far too many violations can languish for months or years without any fines actually being levied. By establishing mandatory minimum fines, this new law will ensure some financial penalties start to accrue after a violation remains unabated. It is well past time for the culture of ‘build now, ask for forgiveness later’ to end. Whether it’s in Rockland or across New York State, this attitude is putting the lives of residents and first responders at risk. Continually violating the building code is reckless and property owners must be held accountable. Ensuring there are repercussions to these unscrupulous property owners does just that. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation and my colleague Senator May for her partnership in getting this done,” said Assemblyman Zebrowski. 

The law takes effect March 3, 2022.