Got kids? What you need to know about window guards—and whom to thank for them

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While you may not know her name, Charlotte Spiegel, a civic leader who died last week, has had an impact on what you see out your window every day -- especially if you have kids. Spiegel is the woman responsible for codifying New York’s window guard program, and the reason landlords have to provide window guards for tenants with kids. For a quick accounting of her reach, consider this: According to the New York Times, "217 children were injured in window falls and 24 died" in 1976, when laws fell into place; in 2013, there were six injuries and one death. So yes, thank you Charlotte Spiegel.

And in case you're unclear about your landlord's (and your own) responsibilities, here's a refresher on the the rules as they currently stand:

  • If you rent in a building with three or more apartments and have kids ages 11 or younger, your landlord  has to  provide, install and maintain window guards in your apartments and in the hallways.
  • Rather than window guards, some buildings (especially those of the floor-to-ceiling window variety) may have internal child safety locks.
  • When you sign a lease, your landlord should give you a form to fill out stating whether or not you need window guards.  You should get and fill out a new form every year during the first two weeks of the year.
  • If you live in or own a co-op or condo and want window guards, the building management -- not you -- is responsible for installing and maintaining them.​
  • Owners of one- and two-family houses aren't required to install guards. But if you rent an apartment in a one- or two-family house you can always ask the landlord to put them in and offer to pay for them yourselves. Either the landlord or you can install them.
  • If your landlord isn't following the rules, reach out to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the Department of Housing Preservation and Development by calling 311.


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