The Living In Communities program, also known as linc is a lifeline for many landlords in New York City. The inspections are expedited normally in 5 days or less, the checks are bigger and issued faster. But many landlords are struggling to pass the inspection, some even opting to not participate in the program because they believe the apartment will not pass. Others are shocked when the apartment fails. To increase your chances of passing the inspection, work with a realtor who understands the linc program and process. Citywide Housing Services can also easily help you to prepare for the linc inspection and rent your apartment to a linc tenant.
After participating in hundreds of inspections we have identified the following top 10 reasons why apartments fail the LINC inspection.
#1. BE PREPARED FOR THE INSPECTOR TO BE LATE OR EARLY.
Inspectors are jumping from inspection to inspection and at times may run late due to unforseen delays. Be prepared to stay later than the scheduled time. If the inspector shows up and cannot gain access you will have to reschedule.
#2. SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS WORKING AND IN PLACE
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be in place and working. It is strongly recommended that you install a smoke detector in each bedroom and the living room area. As well, a carbon monoxide detector should be at least 15 feet to the bedroom area. Larger apartments with bedrooms on opposite sides of the apartment will need at least 2 smoke detectors and 2 carbon monoxide detectors.
#3. KITCHEN AND BATHROOM MUST HAVE GFCI OUTLETS.
The simple reason is that this is an electrical code requirement in NYC. All bathrooms and kitchen areas must have GFCI outlets. Since these areas have high levels of water or steam, this type of outlet helps to detect a short circuit and will quickly shut off power preventing an electrical shock or fire hazard. The chances are extremely high that while cleaning, taking a shower or even washing the dishes water can make contact with the outlet. If there is no safefuard, you can get seriously hurt or even killed if power continues to flow through the outlet. A GFCI out let is a life saver. In some cases inspectors may overlook this requirement but many will not.
#4. WINDOW GUARDS AND L-BRACKET INSTALATION
The law requires window guards to be installed, if one or more of the linc occupants is 10 years old or younger. Proper installation requires "L" brackets installed with one way screws. Brackets are installed above the window to prevent the space between the top bar of the guard from being more than 4.5 inches when the window is fully opened. If the space between the bottom of the window and top bar of the guard is more than 4.5 inches the guard is not properly installed. As well, there is a common belief that if the guard is not required but is installed incorrectly that is acceptable. This is absolutely false. Poorly installed guards, even if it is not required will fail thee inspection. Proper installation of window guards requires 1 window guard, 2 "L" brackets and 4 one way screws.
#5. ALL WINDOWS MUST OPEN AND CLOSE PROPERLY AND CAN BE LOCKED
This is fairly simple to check. If you open a window and it slams shut this is a problem. Also it should lock when latch is activated. Window frame should be free of any cracking or peeling paint, water leaks and the glass cannot have any cracks.
#6. UTILITIES, REFRIGERATOR & STOVE MUST BE ON FOR INSPECTION
Electrical, heat, hot water, cold water and gas must all be working for the inspection. All lights should turn on, with working bulbs and light receptacle covered.
Heat is normally not tested in the summer months since the system is off. During the winter months it's recommended you set the temperature to 75 degrees for inspection and not the minimal standard required by NYC. If the apartment feels cold this will lead to additional inspections and a possible failure.
The hot and cold water will be tested and the toilet flushed. All plumbing fixtures must be connected properly and not leaking.
Refrigerator must be clean and working. Light bulb should activate when door is open. Also recommended that you place a water bottle or ice tray in the freezer to show it is working. Oven should heat up to 400 degrees. In our pre-inspection we set it to 450 degrees, just to be safe. Oven should be clean with no grease build-up and all burners should light with a blue flame. If the flame is excessively yellow this is an indication the burner needs to be cleaned.
#7. ALL ELECTRICAL OUTLETS & GFCI MUST READ "CORRECT"
All electrical outlets and switches must have covers and be wired properly. Kitchen and bathroom must have GFCI outlets. All electrical outlets will be tested for a CORRECT read, using an outlet tester with GFCI diagnosis. If the tester reads: open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot ground reverse, hot neutral reverse or if GFCI outlet doesnt activate when tested it will fail. If it fails in your pre-inspection walk through contact an electrician immediately.
#8. WALLS & CEILINGS PAINTED WITH NO PEELING PAINT
Every inspector will fail an apartment with peeling, chipped or crack paint. Small children especially will put anything in their mouth. Paint particles are a favorite, as well as a hazard. Additionally, the walls and ceilings should not have any evidence of water leaks. If the problem was repaired, the inspector cannot take your word for it. They may ask you to provide a work order from a licensed plumber and filed work permits with the city to confirm your claim. Avoid all this headache and just paint the walls and ceilings.
#9. FINISHED FLOORS
Your floors should not have any gaps, trip hazard or any obvious defects. Tiled areas should not have any missing tiles or big cracks. Wood floors should be neatly finished with no raised areas or flooring not properly secured.
#10. BUILDING OR APARTMENT LOCKS MUST BE DEADBOLTS
Just imagine if there is a fire and when you get to the door it is locked with a key that cannot be located? That's why double cylinder locks are not acceptable anywhere in the apartment or building. It is actually viewed as a fire hazard and serious safety concern. Change any double cylinder locks immediately.
There are lots of resources available to help you pass the inspection. Do not try to go it alone. When in doubt work with a realtor. We can also do a pre-inspection of the apartment for $50.00. As well, if you use Citywide Housing Services to locate your linc tenant there is no cost to you.
Goodluck with your linc inspections and remember to contact us at 914-299-0420, if you failed an inspection, need help passing or have an apartment you want rented to a linc tenant.