The Dangers of Basement Apartments in New York City
In order to legally rent out a space as a basement apartment, the state legislature of New York require owners to meet certain standards to assuage safety concerns. But those requirements are startling bare: all basements need to have is a window/door that can be used as an exit and a ceiling that is at least seven-and-a-half feet high.
Not even considering the numerous illegal basement apartments and attempts to further legalize basement apartments, these hazards inherent to this are apparent.
In New York City, this is all it takes to rent basements as a multi-thousand-dollar apartment. This has led to an estimated 110,000 basement apartments or cellar apartments popping up for rent all over New York City, according to the Pratt Center for Community Development. And for low-income New Yorkers in search of affordable housing, their some of the only living spaces they can afford.
And while these basement apartments are technically up to New York City’s building codes, these building codes do very little to keep these basement apartments safe. This housing crisis was only further highlighted by the devastating toll that Hurricane Ida took on New York City last year, in which eleven people were found dead in basement apartments due to flooding.
SOS Mitigation is Here to Provide Relief For Basement Apartment Residents
With the rising rates of flash flooding in New York City and the potential for even greater damage to be done by future flooding, SOS Mitigation is here to address safety concerns and to help keep basement apartments safe for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who call them home.
At SOS Mitigation, we help both people and property recover from a flash flood. With around-the-clock service and record-breaking response time, SOS Mitigation is here to assist basement residents and their property owners in any and every way that they can.
SOS Mitigation is One of the Leading Damage Restoration Services in New York City
When Hurricane Ida struck New York City in 2021, our team at SOS Mitigation saw a dramatic uptick in emergency calls for water damage restoration. Water damage is a matter of pressing concern, whether the damage is from flash flooding (as in Hurricane Ida’s case) or from factors such as sewage backup or overflowing sinks.
When flooding from Hurricane Ida caused the deaths of eleven residents in Queens, it also left a devastating trail of destruction and flooding that affected a significant portion of the 110,000 estimated basement apartments in the city.
These many basement apartments serve as a last resort to low-income New Yorkers, often immigrants, each just trying to make a life for their family in New York City. At SOS Mitigation, we work tirelessly to provide safety and security for basement apartment residents and the apartments’ property owners.
How SOS Mitigation Prioritizes Your Safety Amidst the Legalize Basement Apartments Movement
Three years ago, a pilot program began attempting to find ways to further legalize basement apartments. In short, this would mean that the regulations for these basement units would become even more lenient, making it easier for a property owner to legally rent out a space. Supporters of the movement claimed that such leniencies would create more units and help with New York City’s housing crisis.
While this may sound appealing to New Yorkers looking for affordable housing and could theoretically help assuage certain concerns, it could also make others exponentially worse. Basement apartments, as is, already have such a high flood risk. Hurricane Ida served to highlight these issues, but it’s far from the only contributing factor. With climate change causing increasingly heavy rains to batter Queens on a regular basis, these basement apartments are being put at greater risk of coastal flooding every day.
Thus, making it even easier to rent out a space such as this would put these cellar apartments at even greater flood risk and actively harm community development.
Basement Residents Protection Law
In stark contrast to this movement is Brad Lander’s proposed Basement Residents Protection Law. Proposed in August of 2022 and based in part on New York City’s 1982 Loft Law, the law would serve to enact tenant protections and legal protections for residents of these basement apartments.
The law would require owners to provide fundamental safety equipment within these basement apartments as well, such as smoke detectors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, water backflow preventers to help deal with the increasingly heavy rain and adherence to parking requirements. It would also require property owners of existing basement units which had already been approved for rental to now be upheld to these standards as well, meaning that said property owners would have to provide financial resources for installation.
The Basement Board and Illegal Basement Apartments
According to Lander’s proposal, a Basement Board would be created to oversee these rights and responsibilities, ensuring greater safety and security for accessory dwelling units such as these. The executive director of Chhaya, Annetta Seecharran (who has led the Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone campaign since 2008 and works in conjunction with the Pratt Center), echoed these sentiments, saying that given the increase of flash flooding and storms due to climate change, the only way to ensure New Yorkers’ safety was to get landlords to bring such accessory dwelling units up to proper building codes.
The Regional Plan Association
The Regional Plan Association also plays a major role in this discussion of housing safety. An independent non-profit organization whose work is rooted in improving the environmental and living quality in the tri-state area, the Regional Plan Association is working to provide a “framework” upon which an idealized basement board could work off of.
As Regional Plan Association senior planner Marcel Negret said, “We need a framework (to work off of) to legalize accessory dwelling units.”
In the three years since that initial pilot program was pitched, much has changed in New York City (COVID interrupted the momentum of a lot of things), but this debate over basement apartments and their safety very much rages on.
SOS Mitigation’s Exemplary Work
With extreme rainfall on the rise and these conflicting arguments hanging over the heads of New Yorkers, many residents feel uneasy in their own homes. They know that the next torrential rains could come any day, and with this in-flux legislation, there’s no telling how their insurance company may handle the damages.
SOS Mitigation’s 24/7, Immediate Service
And that is exactly why SOS Mitigation is here for you. At SOS Mitigation, we know that natural disasters, emergencies, or water damages always seem to occur when you’re least prepared to deal with them. But this is why taking immediate action is so crucial; you want to protect your home and your family members from any potential long-lasting dangers.
We don’t just call ourselves SOS Mitigation for nothing. We know that SOS means that you need urgent and immediate assistance, which is why our service in Brooklyn, NY, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with specialists always standing by, ready and prepared to offer you nearly instantaneous service. From Long Island to Brooklyn, at SOS Mitigation, we put the safety of New Yorkers first.
You Make New York City Beautiful
New York is America’s greatest and largest melting pot. The birthplace of true American culture, at one point or another, we were all members of immigrant communities coming here to make it in New York.
That’s why protection against water damage, storm damage, and preventing further casualties from these cases of extreme rainfall is so important.
The Tragedy of Mr. Bravo
Roberto Bravo was a 66-year-old man. After spending four weeks hospitalized with extreme symptoms from COVID-19, Roberto Bravo pulled through but found himself facing immense financial struggles.
As a direct result of this, Bravo temporarily moved into the basement apartment of the building he owned. Bravo was both a tenant and a property owner here. And yet, none of those politicalized lines in the sand meant anything when Roberto Bravo was found dead from flooding relating to Hurricane Ida in his basement apartment in 2021.
A Tough Few Years for New York
These past few years have been especially rough for a lot of people, but even more so for the people of New York. From extreme rainfall to disastrous COVID cases to Hurricane Ida, residents of this great city have had to put up with a lot. But as tough as it is, we’ve all stuck together and come out the other side more caring and empathetic because of it.
That’s why at SOS Mitigation, we’re not interested in the politics of it all: we’re interested in keeping you and your family safe.
The SOS Mitigiation Process
There’s a reason why here at SOS Mitigation, we pride ourselves on being the very best water damage restoration company in Queens.
Our team offers emergency water damage restoration services and more in Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, and New Jersey.
The Six Steps of SOS Mitigation’s Water Damage Process
At SOS Mitigation, our process is a time-tested and well-proven system that allows us to properly assess the extent of the water damage done to your home and/or property and chart an efficient and reliable course forward from there.
The First Step is Initial Emergency Contact
Promptness is everything when it comes to water damage restoration. That’s why our teams at SOS Mitigation are available and ready 24/7 because we know that when it comes to saving your home, there is no time to waste!
At SOS Mitigation, we operate with a six-step process specifically designed to do exactly what our name says: mitigate the damage done to your home. These steps will focus on assessing the extent of the damage, stopping the spread of the damage, and ultimately rectifying the damage itself.
Each step is engineered to ultimately ensure that all excess water and possible contaminants are extensively removed from the premises, that repairs and restorations are completed accordingly and extensively, and that the repairs and restorations are done with top-notch quality and care so that they prevent further damage from occurring.
The Second Step is Inspection and Damage Assessment
The first proper step of the process may seem obvious, but it is actually one of the most crucial parts of the entire affair: in order to properly treat and restore your home, we first have to have a complete and total understanding of the damage that has been done.
This means painstakingly examining your home and studying the water damage itself. Here, we not only want to understand precisely what needs fixing and how you’d like it done but also what our team can do to help prevent issues such as this from happening again.
As we saw last year, if your basement apartment has sustained damage because of Hurricane Ida, that means that it’s even more vulnerable to further damage from future flooding. This is why we go to such great lengths to fully comprehend the damage we are dealing with and to make the process faster, easier, and more reliable for you in the long run.
The Third Step is Responding to the Damage via Water Removal/Water Extraction
After thoroughly and successfully assessing the extent of the damage, the next step of the job at hand is to deliver a prompt and effective initial response to the damage. This can be as simple as clearing out the space in which the water damage is at its greatest, squeegeeing out or mopping up the excess water to prevent it from further soaking into and damaging the infrastructure, and more.
Here, our team at SOS Mitigation is going to do everything they can on this surface level to ensure that your basement apartment remains livable and sustainable for you. Much like the first two steps, this step also doubles as crucial prep work for everything that follows, setting the stage for the further work that is to come. Without properly assessing the damage and then promptly initially responding to it, infinitely more damage can be dealt to your home.
That’s why at SOS Mitigation, we guarantee to have a representative specialist in your home within a half-hour of your call and consultation. Because at SOS Mitigation, we know just how important it is to offer a speedy and diligent response to these damaging situations.
The Fourth Step is Drying and Dehumidifying
Once our team has ensured that all possible contaminants and excess water have been removed from your home, this fourth step of the process can truly begin. Here at SOS Mitigation, our team uses top-notch dehumidifiers and drying machinery to comprehensively dry any and all materials that may still be wetted from the damage or were in a position that proved too difficult to dry efficiently earlier.
Even prior to this step, your home may look great: dry and damage free. However, appearances can be very deceiving, and whereas other restoration services might feel that they’ve done a good enough job at this point, we at SOS Mitigation know that a job isn’t done until we can be truly proud of seeing it all the way through.
If left wet and unchecked, materials and the very infrastructure of your home will inevitably be subjected to sustaining even greater damage. Further extensive warping, molding, or foundational breakages are just some of the potential hazards this kind of half-hearted restoration response to water damage can lead to. Fortunately, SOS Mitigation is here to ensure you are taken care of.
In addition to performing our trademark extensively thorough drying and dehumidifying, SOS Mitigation’s team will also be actively keeping an eye on the moisture levels of the affected areas. This is done in the name of ensuring that your home is as safe and water-damage-free as it can possibly be.
The Fifth Step is Cleaning and Sanitizing
Upon properly assessing and swiftly responding to the situation, drying out all of the water in the process, it is then time for SOS Mitigation’s team to get to work cleaning your home.
Extensive, professional cleaning is an incredibly necessary step and a vital part of the home restoration process. Your home is a symbiotic ecosystem, one in which you and your family can thrive so long as you feel safe and secure within its walls. After extensive physical damage is done to your home, it is incredibly important to clean it extensively. Not just as a physical necessity of cleaning up the excess filth and debris but also as a mental cleansing of the damage and rot so that you and your family can truly feel at home once more.
SOS Mitigation’s cleaning techniques utilize wet, dry, and spray-and-wipe cleaning. By utilizing top-of-the-line industrial cleaning tools and their expertise in safety and sanity as it pertains to water damage, our team is able to provide the best cleaning available.
Furthermore, the SOS Mitigation team will use abrasive, foam, and immersion cleaning techniques and will thoroughly inspect and clean the entirety of your home.
During this extensive cleaning process, the team will also perform mold remediation if the water damage has caused even the faintest trace of mold to be present to ensure your home remains safe and secure even after our team leaves.
The Sixth Step is Restoration
The final step of SOS Mitigation’s proven water damage restoration process is the actual restoration itself. As the rightfully proclaimed best water damage restoration company in Queens, the team at SOS Mitigation aims to return your home to the beauty and comfort of how it looked and felt before, if not even better. The goal is never to simply slap a band-aid over it (like some lesser companies might) but rather to genuinely fix the problem.
A home is like a human being. When it gets hurt, its injuries need to be properly mended, or else things could get exponentially worse down the road. At SOS Mitigation, we take the time to fully understand the extent of the injuries dealt to your home so that we can get in there, clean out the wound and reset the bones so that by the time we are done, your home can truly be whole once more.
Our restoration time varies depending on multiple variables, such as the extent of the damage to your home and the extent of the demolition and cleaning that our team has already performed. With something as simple to perform as a wall repair, our specialists can finish in a matter of hours. With something more complex, requiring heavy-duty materials, the process may take a bit longer. But rest assured that you are in excellent hands with SOS Mitigation.
Why You Should Hire the Best in the Business: SOS Mitigation
Between our 24/7 emergency service, willingness to liaise with all insurance companies to get you an affordable rate, and the most highly-trained specialists in the business, the team at SOS Mitigation has proven time and time again that they are more than qualified to handle your water damage needs.
In these uncertain times, whether you’re a renter or a landowner that finds your apartment in need of repairs, SOS Mitigation is the perfect team that will always work for you.