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Can my NYC apartment building make me pay for the installation of air conditioner brackets?

The Department of Buildings requires all window ACs to be supported by metal brackets or mounting rails.

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Question:

My building’s super dropped off air conditioner brackets and told me I have to install them if I'm putting in an AC window unit this summer—and that I have to pay for the installation myself. Is this really my responsibility, and can the building make me install the brackets?

Answer:

Unless your lease states otherwise, installing your air conditioner, and the brackets to secure it, is your responsibility, our experts say.

According to New York City law, landlords have no legal obligation to provide you with air-conditioning, and as we've written previously, it's not standard for buildings to handle installation unless it's explicitly outlined in your lease.

As for the brackets, it's in your best interest to comply with the landlord's request and install them. Window units are covered under Local Law 11, also known as the Facade Inspection & Safety Program, which means that if you live in a building six stories or higher, your AC must be installed properly and could be subject to inspection. 


[Editor's Note: A previous version of this article ran in July 2016. It has been updated with new information for June 2020.]


The Department of Buildings' AC guidelines require that window units are installed securely and that you support the unit from underneath with either metal brackets or mounting rails that are strong enough for the size and weight of your AC, so your building is trying to make sure you comply with the law. Your lease might also outline requirements for brackets or another type of support.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions too. If they say to use a bracket to support the unit, then you must install a bracket. Failing to secure it properly may result in DOB violations, says Andrew Rudansky, press secretary for the DOB.

The good news is that the installation process is fairly simple if you have access to a drill, and if not, you can pay someone to install the brackets and your unit for around $200 (we've got options here). 

It's an annoying expense, but look on the bright side: Since your building provided them free of charge, you're saving the $20 to $100 you’d likely spend buying brackets on your own. And, you don’t want to be the person whose AC falls out of the window because you couldn't be bothered with brackets.

—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith.