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What To Do With A/C Window Units

Real Estate Legality, Real Property

As the temperature drops, New Yorkers have the decision of leaving their window air-conditioning unit in or taking it out. There is nothing attractive about A/C window units. In the summer they are definitely worth it to combat the grueling heat, but in the fall and winter they are simply aesthetically unpleasing, take up precious window space, obstruct natural light and views, and tend to cause a draft.

For larger apartments with an abundance of natural light, it is less of a burden to live with. Others might live in very warm buildings during the winter and may either appreciate the draft or even want to use the A/C to cool down their apartment.  If a draft is your concern however, simply insulate the area by covering the A/C unit and line the space around it.

For those who decide to take their units out as the temperature continues to drop, it is best to ask for professional help, such as a member of staff in your building who is permitted and has experience with removing A/C window units. It is advised for people to seek professional help when removing their unit because if something goes wrong, such as the unit falling out of the window, you can be held liable for any damage or injury.

“[I]f, despite your best efforts, the A/C still falls out your window? … such an occurrence falls under the personal liability portion of most renters insurance policies, which typically covers at least $100,000 worth of damage” as long as the A/C was not intentionally pushed out.[1] “All it takes is one air-conditioner dropping out the window and killing someone”.[2] Every couple of years there will be a report of someone being injured from a falling A/C unit, however, it is very unlikely the injury will cause death. The easiest option is to hire an insured company who checks all the boxes by removing the unit in the fall, cleaning and storing it in their facilities, and then reinstalling it in the spring.

What are the rules and regulations governing the safety of A/C units? These units fall under the ambit of Local Law 11 (1998),[3] which deals with requirements, examinations and safety measures of exterior walls and appurtenances thereof. NYC Buildings has also published guidelines for purchasing and installing A/C units, which can be found here.[4]

[1] Hochbaum Rosner, L. (June 2, 2016) “It’s A/C Season: Here’s what you need to know now.” Brick Underground. Available at: https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2013/05/summer_s_coming_what_you_need_to_know_as_ac_season_nears. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[2] Kaysen, R. (Nov. 3, 2017) “The Window Air-Conditioner: Should It Stay or Go?” New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/realestate/window-air-conditioner-should-it-stay-or-go.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Frealestate&action=click&contentCollection=realestate&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[3] Local Law 1998/011. Available at: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=430651&GUID=CBDD1499-69BF-47D6-9BE0-CD562575BBBE&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=building. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[4] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/homeowner/installing-air-conditioning-unit.page

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