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LBCC Helps Change Residency Requirement in NYC's Special Inspection Program

11.01.12  |  By Paula M. Gart

Architects and engineers who perform Special Inspections in the City of New York must be working as or through a registered Special Inspection Agency for projects issued a building permit after May 13, 2013. Special Inspections supersede what was referred to as "Controlled Inspections". The architect or engineer who designs the project may also perform these Special Inspections, thereby improving the Special Inspection Program's effectiveness due to their presumed comprehensive knowledge of the project drawings and the design intent, but registration as a Special Inspection Agency is now required.

Any qualified individual, firm or entity that meets the requirements may register as a Special Inspection Agency. Until recently, the Special Inspection Agency was required to maintain a New York City address or be registered with New York State's Secretary of State if it is an entity located outside of New York City, to enable New York City to more easily serve process on the Special Inspection Agency if necessary.

LBCC was instrumental in the City's decision to modify the Special Inspection Program to the extent that it no longer requires design professionals practicing as sole proprietors, or in a general partnership, to maintain a New York City address. As originally enacted, the residency requirement excluded many otherwise qualified design professionals living and working outside New York City from participating in the Special Inspection Program, even if they were the project's design professional of record.

As a result of LBCC's efforts, sole practitioners and general partnerships who do not have a residence or business in New York City may now participate in the Special Inspection Program by designating any individual or business with a New York City address as their agent to accept service of process on their behalf. The Designation of Agent Form is available on request through the DOB's Special Inspection Agency website.

Registration is open for applications for new Special Inspection Agencies. The City advises that there is no deadline to register as a Special Inspection Agency and qualified parties may register at any time. The rules' "deadline" refers to the requirement that registered Special Inspection Agencies submit identification of responsibilities on projects permitted after May 13, 2013.

Prior to this significant change to the residency requirement, design professionals who practiced as sole proprietors or general partnerships without a business or residence address within New York City were not able to register as Special Inspection Agencies. As such, they were unable to compete with similarly small or suburban business entities who register with New York's Secretary of State, such as professional corporations or professional limited liability companies. L’Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini, LLP is proud to have facilitated this important change to New York City's Special Inspection Program's requirements and to have favorably impacted the practices of design professionals.

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