If you live in New York City, chances are you've seen window guards in your apartment or in hallway windows.
Find out why window guards are so important if you live with children or have children visit you. Also, learn what your landlord's responsibilities and your rights are when it comes to installing and maintaining window guards in your apartment.
What Are Window Guards?
Window guards are lifesaving safety devices that help prevent young children from falling out of open or unsafe windows. These devices are particularly important in cities such as New York that have many multistory apartment buildings. A rise in window-related accidents in the 1970s led New York City to add window guard requirements to its municipal code.
Does New York City Law Require Window Guards?
New York City law (known as Health Code Section 131.15) requires landlords of buildings with three or more apartments to provide and install approved window guards on windows in an apartment where a child 10 years old or younger lives. Landlords must also install window guards in hallway windows.
Are Any Windows Exempt From These Requirements?
Yes. Landlords mustn't install window guards on windows that offer tenants access to fire escapes. Doing so would create a serious fire hazard, preventing tenants from escaping their apartment in the event of an emergency. Also exempt are any street-level windows meant as exits (in buildings with fire escapes on the second floor and up).
Can New York City Tenants Request Window Guards?
Yes. If you rent an apartment in New York City that doesn't have window guards, you can ask your landlord to install them—whether or not you have children living with you.
Even if you don't have children, you might still want window guards if you have children visit you. Whatever your reason, your landlord can't refuse your request for window guards in your apartment. Landlords must affirmatively ask you about your window guard needs by including a required written notice in your lease and send you a form to complete annually.
How Can You Tell if Window Guards Are Properly Installed?
Window guards must be appropriate for the particular window and approved by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the "Health Department"). An approved window guard should have a manufacturer's approval number imprinted on a vertical side of the guard. If you can fit an object more than five inches in diameter through open spaces in your window guard, then it wasn't installed properly.
Follow Window Safety Tips
The Health Department offers the following additional tips to help protect young apartment dwellers across the five boroughs from window accidents:
- Never leave a child alone in a room where there are open windows without window guards.
- Don't place furniture on which children can climb near windows.
- Keep children off balconies, and keep balcony doors locked when not occupied by a responsible adult.
- Don't let your child play in or near fire escapes, balconies, roofs, hallways that have windows without window guards, and other hazardous common areas.
Where to Get Help
If your landlord hasn't provided window guards, refuses to respond to your request for window guards, or if you have other problems with window guards that you can't resolve with your landlord, call 311 or file a complaint online with the Health Department.