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Who is responsible for condo window guard maintenance?

If you live in New York City above the ground floor, chances are your windows are equipped with window guards that comply to city codes. But what happens when those protective devices malfunction or are installed incorrectly?

The results are often tragic, and sadly, it's often small children who lose their lives in instances where a guard gives way. Some might remember the sad story of legendary guitarist Eric Clapton's son's death after the 4-year-old tumbled to his death from an open and unguarded window on the 53rd floor of his parents' Manhattan apartment.

When these tragedies occur, what party bears liability for the injuries and deaths that ensue? That can vary widely in New York City, as it depends upon the type of residence it is and other factors as well.

City regulations mandate window guards on even first floor units when a child under 11 lives there and the building houses at least three apartments. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also has certain specifications for the weight-bearing capabilities and installation. All guards undergo lab testing and certification prior to being approved for installation.

The Housing Maintenance Code now assumes responsibility for enforcing window guard requirements. Housing inspectors report violations to the condominium board president for the matter to be handled. Failure to do so will cause a return visit to be made for the HPD to complete the work at a much steeper price.

If your child is harmed due to improperly installed window guards, or the lack of guards, it may be possible to seek compensation for your loss. Determining responsibility may be challenging, and seeking legal guidance could make the process somewhat easier.

Source: Cooperator, "Safer Behind Bars," Jonathan Barnes, accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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