New York's Rental Protection (For Asthma!)

What is rental protection? And what does it have to do with asthma?

Well, everything! I'm surprised how many people don't realize the connection between their asthma and their house or apartment.

Indoor triggers

There are many things in a home or apartment that can trigger an asthma attack. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists mold, cats and dogs, rodents (mice), cockroaches, smoke, etc.

The problem with apartments is that most of the time, they are rented. Which means having a landlord. And hopefully, you get a good landlord. But many times, the landlords are there to make money, and they don't really care about the renters. I have heard many horror stories (and you probably have some to share.)

Having managed our family's rental property for 25 years, we were one of The Good Landlords. We would tell our renters that if ANYTHING happened to their apartment, call us right away and we will get there as fast as we can (usually we would be there within a few hours).

We have had leaking faucets, refrigerators that quit, tubs that have overflowed, garbage disposals that jammed, etc. Luckily, the Hubster and his dad were very handy and could quickly repair or replace anything.

The most important thing about being a landlord is fixing things fast. Why? Well, for one thing  - it's the right thing to do. I live in a clean and safe home, and we want our renters to have that same experience.

But it's a practical issue too. If they have a leaky faucet, bathtub, toilet, etc, that can lead to mold. If you catch a leak quickly, you can fix it and keep the area dry, clean and safe. EPA recommends fixing and drying out a leaky area within 1-2 days. If you don't fix a leak right away, mold can start to grow.

Easy enough, right? Just call the landlord and he will come right over to fix it. (If you lived in one of our rentals, that's what would happen.) But for most people, their complaint will fall on deaf ears.

So, sometimes cities or counties have to force landlords to do the right thing. Enter New York City. They just passed The Asthma-Free Housing Act (Intro 385B.)

What does that do? WE ACT for Environmental Justice says the bill will:


  • "prioritize prevention measures in homes of susceptible persons – those with diagnosed asthma, COPD, or lung cancer;"

  • "require landlords to inspect for Indoor Allergen Hazards and correct them and their causes using approved methods;"

  • "require NYC Housing and Preservation Department (HPD) to inspect for Indoor Allergen Hazards and their causes, and issue appropriate violations;"


  • "require HPD to correct violations for Indoor Allergen Hazards where Landlords fail to do so promptly; create a system for physician referrals for housing inspections by the City for patients with asthma; and codify safe and effective work practices for remediation of mold hazards."

So, basically, the bill makes landlords do the right thing - inspect the housing for asthma triggers and then remove them. Not only is it important that the repairs are made, but renters need education about the link between the environment and asthma. The bill will also require The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to educate renters about how indoor asthma triggers can affect their asthma.

Knowledge is power. Whether you live in a home you own or are renting an apartment, you need to know what your indoor asthma triggers are and how to fix them (or get your landlord to fix them - and that may require a city or county bill.)

If you are renting, hopefully, you have a good landlord who will quickly fix any problems in your apartment. If not, check with your local health department and see if there are any bills to protect you.

Good luck and keep protecting those lungs, we only have one pair!

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