The Real Estate Board of New York to REBNY Testimony to The Committee on Housing and Buildings and The Committee on Oversight and Investigations of the New York City Council Regarding Gas Pipe Inspections

Daniel Avery

Director of Policy

February 26, 2023

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REBNY appreciates the opportunity to submit testimony concerning qualifications for gas pipe work.

Under Local Law 152 of 2016, all buildings except one- and two-family homes and certain other buildings in Occupancy Group R-3, must have their gas pipes inspected every four years. Inspections are carried out by a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) or a qualified individual working for an LMP. Forms must then be filed via DOB’s dedicated portal showing that the inspection has been done and, if needed, that any repairs have been completed by a specific time period.

REBNY appreciates the importance of proactively inspecting gas piping to increase public safety. However, the program could be improved in several ways.

The overarching goal of LL 152 is to prevent catastrophic fires related to gas leaks. As stated above, if unsafe or hazardous conditions are identified, the building fails the inspection, and the conditions must be immediately resolved. Unfortunately, under DOB rules, buildings with “abnormal conditions” also fail the inspection, even though these conditions may not create a threat to public safety. In fact, often these abnormal conditions are mild code violations that do not cause leaks. As such, requiring the building to be re-piped immediately is often not necessary to protect the public but is very burdensome and expensive. The DOB should develop a different schedule and process for addressing these relatively minor situations.

In addition, the current program leaves too much discretion regarding inspections to the LMPs. As a result, our members report that it is often difficult to get apples to apples quotes for the inspections from various LMPs, which complicates efforts to control costs. For example, one REBNY member reports that three quotes for one building ranged from $11,000 to $350,000. The vastly divergent proposed scopes leave property managers in a bind, as they want to comply with all requirements, but do not want to pay for work that is not required by the inspection process. It would be helpful if DOB could put out guidance that spells out exactly what elements need to go into an inspection, so managers could better evaluate bids.

Third, LL 152 has its own stand-alone web portal, which is difficult to use and does not provide that kind of useful information that DOB NOW does. The portal should be moved to DOB NOW for a better user experience.

Thank you for considering these thoughts.

Topics Covered

  • Safety
  • Housing