Realty Bites

It's nearly mosquito season: Are NYC landlords required to provide screens for your windows?

By Virginia K. Smith  | May 23, 2017 - 8:59AM

Now that it's getting warmer out, I've been keeping my windows open, but bugs keep getting into my apartment. Is my landlord legally required to put in a screen, or provided a removable one?

While your landlord is often required to provide window guards and other safety features on your windows, as far as screens go, you're on your own.

"The Housing Maintenance Code sets out requirements for housing in New York City, and it does not require that a landlord maintain storm windows or screens in windows," says real estate attorney Catharine Grad of Grad and Weinraub LLP. Meaning, then, that if you're concerned about insects flying in through your open windows, you'll have to shell out yourself for something like an adjustable screen that you can take with you when you move.

One potential exception here: If your apartment is rent-stabilized or rent-controlled, and there were screens in place when you first moved in, says Grad, then your landlord needs to maintain them so you're retaining the same level of services that were there when you first moved in. "A service that a tenant has from the beginning of their tenancy can be considered a required service," says Grad. "So, if a landlord provided a rent-stabilized tenants with storm windows or screens when he or she first moved in, the landlord can be required to continue to provide such a service."

Beyond the screens, do keep in mind that if your building has more than three apartments and you live with children 11 or younger, as we've written previously, the landlord is required to provide, install, and maintain window guards or windows with internal child safety locks. They might not be obligated to keep you safe from insects, but they do have to make sure that you and the younger members of your household aren't put at more serious risk by unprotected windows.

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