As if the record vacancies and ever-rising property taxes weren’t enough, the City Council is looking to add a pricey sprinkler mandate on all apartment buildings taller than 40 feet.
The Community Housing Improvement Program, a collection of over 4,000 housing providers, estimates that the bill would require $20,000 in work on every apartment, plus $6,000 per hallway and $30,000 for a new water supply — as well as $700 per night for every tenant forced into temporary accommodations. Indeed, CHIP fears that hundreds of thousands of tenants could be displaced.
The mandate would mainly impact older, rent-stabilized apartments whose owners can’t readily cover the added costs by raising rents — which a lot of tenants have been unable to pay anyway since the pandemic hit. Many landlords already can’t afford to pay the cleaning, water and sewage bills that have piled up these last few months.
And if the work requires drilling into concrete, lead and asbestos removal would likely displace families for months.
There’s an easy and affordable alternative: Require fire extinguishers on every floor. With the entire city trying to get back on its feet, it’s no time for lawmakers to push grand, impractical solutions.