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Not a Façade! Increased Penalty Reminder for FISP-Eligible Buildings

Building owners beware – Outstanding façade issues from last inspection could result in a $2,000 fine.

The DOB recently issued a reminder that any owner of a Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP)-eligible building who failed to correct a Safe With A Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP) condition reported in the previous FISP report filing cycle (i.e. Cycle 8, which ended in February 2019) will be issued a violation and potential civil penalty of $2,000.

This penalty went into effect on February 21, 2020, at the start of Cycle 9, as part of a series of amendments made in response to a December 2019 incident that injured and killed a local architect in midtown Manhattan.

Other updates included:

  • Enhanced requirements for exterior wall inspections and repairs.
  • More frequent, random safety reviews for 25 percent of all buildings over 6 stories tall (NOT just those facing violations).
  • More requirements for Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWIs) hired by property owners, including at least 7 years of past experience (increased from 1 year).
  • Façade status updates to be posted and maintained in the building lobby by owners (similar to elevator safety certificates).
  • More hands-on inspections for facades facing public rights-of-way.
  • Photographic evidence of close-up inspections.

While the shutdown of all non-essential construction in March 2020 meant that some of these measures did not get enacted right away, at this time the rules fully are back in play, with failure to comply risking severe consequences.

What constitutes a SWARMP Condition?

A typical year in New York City can be tough on a building. From scorching summers to icy winters, air pollution to heavy rain and high winds, these can all wear on building facades over time. Without proper oversight, this can (and has) lead to dangerous conditions for pedestrians. That’s where the Façade Inspection Safety Program comes in.

FISP applies to all buildings over six (6) stories tall in New York City. Building owners under this program must have exterior walls and appendages inspected every five (5) years by a QEWI — either a NYS-licensed Professional Engineers (PE) or Registered Architects (RA). This inspection will classify the building in one of three ways:

  • Safe: No problems and in good condition;
  • Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP): Safe, but requires repair/maintenance; or
  • Unsafe: Problems/defects threaten public safety.

This is where things get tricky. While an Unsafe classification is considered an emergency and must be repaired within 90 days, and a Safe condition requires nothing to be done, a SWARMP condition is in the middle. It’s not unsafe yet, but is at risk of becoming unsafe by the time the next cycle rolls, and thus must be fixed before that time.

While the QEWI may require an earlier deadline for an individual SWARMP item to be repaired depending on the severity of the issue (minimum one year from filing date), any SWARMP item not repaired by the time the next cycle’s report is filed will automatically downgrade the building to Unsafe, regardless of the actual degree of physical danger, and may trigger the new civil penalty fine.

What Can Building Owners Do About It?

If an owner receives a violation, it may be challenged if proof is provided that it was issued in error. To submit a challenge, complete a Facades Waiver of Civil Penalties Form and email it to (See here for details about required proof).

Penalties can be paid to the Central Cashier located at 280 Broadway, 1st Floor in Manhattan using one of the options below:

  • Certified Check
  • Bank or Cashier’s Check
  • U.S. Postal Money Order
  • Credit Card

NOTE: Respondents who pay by credit card, authorize a credit card payment for this specific transaction and agree not to dispute the payment. If for any reason the transfer of funds is not honored, the violation will revert back to an active status and additional penalties or violations may be issued.

For more information or assistance, please contact the Facades Unit at, or reach out to our team of experts at Outsource Consultants.