City Council Will Require Landlords To Display Property Addresses

Hiding in plain sight is no longer an option. A new law proposes building landlords let people know exactly where they are.

By Jeff Vasishta February 16, 2017

Addresses in New York are a hit or miss affair. Property owners often go on the premise of “you either know where we are or you don’t”. And often we don’t.

Unlike many other cities, New York is ‘walk the street’ kind of place. Property owners often don’t like the idea of people being about to walk right up to their abode. Hiding in plain sight is the preferred modus operandi for many. Thus, for years there have been numerous buildings with no way of knowing what their actual address is—no number, no name.

Then there’s the whole business of Avenues and streets. An address may clearly say it’s on an avenue but the property your iPhone is about to burst into flames trying to find, is actually halfway down a street. Thirteen years after first seeing a bill proposing it, the City Council is now requiring landlords to display their addresses.

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Crain’s reports that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer first penned the legislation in 2004. The idea was not to give bill collectors or delivery guys a helping hand but rather essential services such as firefighters and police responding to emergencies. In Manhattan, an Avenue address is often listed for a property that has no front entrance on an avenue, simply because a Park, Madison or Fifth Avenue address carries a certain caché. A 2010 study found that nearly half of all buildings along several Manhattan commercial corridors did not have a building number visible from the street.

“For years, New York City’s streets have been like something out of a Harry Potter book, with storefronts and whole buildings that are only easy to find if you already know where they are,” Brewer said in a statement announcing the bill, which was surely the first time Harry Potter has been mentioned in a statement by a NYC politician. The bill expected to pass the council on Wednesday without any special spells before landing, as if by magic, on the desk of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Currently there are regulations that owners post property addresses only at the front entrance to assist first responders. It only seems to complicate matters, however.

“Given the nature of many New York City buildings,” the FDNY’s John Sarrocco said in the fall during testimony supporting the bill, “sometimes the front … may mean different things to different people.”

City Councilman Jumaane Williams introduced the new law, which requires an address to be posted at any doorway used by pedestrians. It increases the initial fine to $250 from $25 for non-addressed buildings. If a required address is not posted within 30 days, a $50 fine would accrue for each day afterward.

For landlords, posting their address can be a headache. Junk mail, solicitations and privacy issues can all be dodged by going incognito. They’ll be pleased to know that just because the legislation will finally be passed, enforcing it, a job which currently lies with Borough presidents, may be another matter. That rule which was written when they controlled the Bureau of Encroachments and Incumbrancers—a department which has since been eliminated. Brewer is suggesting other agencies take over. No word yet on who is likely to step into the fray.


Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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