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Premise liability and window guards in New York City

New York City started to grow upwards faster than it grew outwards, making skyscrapers and high-rise apartments things that just seemed to go along with the city.

Early builders, unfortunately, weren't necessarily inclined toward common safety -- which ultimately resulted in the deaths of far too many children and adults who accidentally fell through screens and windows.

Now, window guards -- which are different than bug screens -- are part of mandatory housing laws in New York City for even first-floor apartments if you live in a building with more than two apartments or have a child under the age of 11 living with you.

You also have the right to ask for them -- without justifying the reason. (Perhaps you occasionally babysit for a friend or perhaps you sleepwalk. It isn't your landlord's concern. It's enough that you make the request. However, be smart, put it in writing and send it certified mail so that it is hard to deny later that it was sent and received, should something happen.)

In order to qualify as safe, all window guards have to be installed properly and screwed in with tamper-proof (one-way) screws.

In addition, it is your landlord's responsibility to provide these window guards and make certain that they are properly installed. Your landlord must also keep the guards in good repair.

Every landlord has certain obligations to his or her tenants to keep the property they rent as reasonably safe from known dangers as possible. This is what is known as premises liability. While this imposes a general obligation, landlords are responsible for following state-specific and city-specific laws in addition to general "common sense" issues.

If you, a relative or a guest were injured due to a faulty or improperly-installed window guard, please contact an attorney for advice about the possibility of a claim.

Source: NYC Health, "Window Guards: They Save Lives, They're the Law," accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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