New York’s City Council is considering a proposal that would require landlords within the city to inspect for and correct conditions that create indoor allergens.
According to a statement released by The Coalition for Asthma-Free Housing, 48 of 51 council members currently sponsor the bill. The measure also has the support of area doctors.
If passed, landlords would be required to conduct annual inspections looking for issues such as mold, pests, water leaks, and holes or cracks in the homes of tenants who have asthma and other respiratory ailments, and subsequently eliminate those hazards.
According to lawmakers sponsoring the bill, more than a million New York city residents suffer from asthma. Sponsors hope to move the bill through prior to upcoming November elections.
The New York State Department of Health estimates the annual cost of asthma is $1.3 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity to the state. Hospitalizations account for $660 million of those costs.
Area doctors complain that the condition of some rental properties within the city exacerbate asthma symptoms. “We would like landlords to understand these triggers can cause a child not to be able to breathe resulting in asthma emergency visits to the doctor’s office or hospital, increasing healthcare costs,” said Dr. Acklema Mohammad from Urban Health Plan.
According to initial drafts, the bill will set forth rental property owners’ responsibilities for avoiding indoor allergen triggers. That would be a significant development for landlords. When pursuing personal injury claims for negligence, a statutory duty such as this can serve as evidence of the landlord’s duty of care, and a breach of that duty, making it far easier for the tenant to prevail in the lawsuit, and to convince a jury to award punitive damages.
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