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New Rules for NYC Laundromat Operators

Guest Post by Michael Shapiro, Attorney at Kramer & Shapiro, P.C.

NYC Laundromat New Rules

For Laundry Operators in New York City, It’s A New World Order: The City’s Department of Consumer Affairs Has New Rules and Licenses. Auto Renewals May Be Over.

Overview of new laundry licensing and regulations-NYC DCA

On a hot summer night in August, a diversity of laundry operators attended the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs open house in Sunnyside, Queens to learn about the new DCA rules and regulations concerning laundry licensing and laundry operations. The DCA brought in multiple interpreters, including those who speak Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Bengali, so this was a pretty big roll out and reach out to the laundromat community.

Some helpful handouts which summarize the DCA program including the open house series entitled NEW LAUNDRY LICENSES, FAQs, LICENSE APPLICATIONS and CHECKLIST FOR INSPECTIONS are available on the NYC DCA website.

Although technically already in effect since January of 2017, DCA will soon commence aggressive enforcement of three categories of new laundry licenses. The three new license categories are:

  1. Industrial Laundry
  2. Industrial Laundry Delivery and
  3. Retail laundry

Laundry and Laundry Jobber licenses will go the way of the Dodo on December 31, 2017.

The Retail Laundry license is fairly self-evident. If you provide laundry services to the general public, you need this license. A detailed definition of the various new licenses is included in the respective handout available online (https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/about/Laundries-LawHandout.pdf)  However, THERE IS A TWIST!! If your laundry does business with commercial clients, including hotels, hospitals, restaurants gyms and retail laundries, ANOTHER license is required – the Industrial laundry license.

The requirements for a Retail Laundry license have not changed much but the requirements for the new Industrial Laundry License have become increasingly complex including significantly greater insurance requirements, which are set forth in the handout entitled OPEN HOUSE SERIES: NEW LAUNDRY LICENSES.

The third type of license, Industrial Laundry Delivery is required if the business TRANSPORTS laundry from commercial clients in or out of NYC. The specific definition of what business transactions are covered is included in the same handout, OPEN HOUSE SERIES: NEW LAUNDRY LICENSES.

For Laundry Operators in New York City, It’s A New World Order: The City’s Department of Consumer Affairs Has New Rules and Licenses. Auto Renewals May Be Over.

THE END OF AUTOMATIC RENEWALS???

As you may be aware, current laundromat owners simply mail in their license renewals with updated bonds or renew through the internet. THIS MAY ALL CHANGE as the new licenses roll in. ANTICIPATION AND PREPARATION ARE CRUCIAL!  The DCA licensing representative who spoke at the Open House stated that licensees will have to personally bring in the new applications and supporting documentation, including Certificates of Occupancy and Letters of No Objection, if applicable. This could be a potential disaster for current laundry owners who, for years, simply renewed on a computer or put their check in the mail relying on the belief that existing licenses would RENEW IN PERPETUITY with little more than a renewal fee and bond update.

Currently, Certificates of Occupancy that state “laundry”, “laundromat”, “Use Group 6 or 16” are acceptable for licensing purposes by the DCA. If you cannot produce such a C.O. you must get a current Letter of No Objection from the NYC Department of Buildings stating it has no objection to use of the premises as a laundromat. That alternative is often frustrating and expensive as the D.O.B. can deny issuance if there are violations against the building that may have NOTHING to do with the laundry. Good luck getting the Landlord to make the necessary repairs and remove the offending violations. When the DCA announced this to the crowded room of laundry owners, the groans and angry shouts were loud and plentiful. Holders of licenses for stores that were laundries for over thirty years and longer expressed frustration with having to expend small fortunes on architects and engineers to comply with D.O.B. requirements, demanding to know why they were not grandfathered for licensing purposes.

For years, Tenants with potential C.O. issues have circumvented these problems with automatic renewal procedures. That will likely end this year. The advice to clients is to begin accumulating the documentation they will need to obtain the new licenses and NOW is not too early to begin the process.

RULES AND REGULATIONS 

Pages 7-9 of the OPEN HOUSE SERIES: NEW LAUNDRY LICENSES handout list new rules and regulations, some of which may seem redundant, needlessly expensive and plain silly. For instance, did you know that all – yes, ALL – handcarts and pushcarts in a laundromat must have – in a minimum of two inch (2”) letters—the name, address and license number of the business. Why? No one on the DCA panel could give an answer. Assuming one is already in the laundry, presumably one would know the name of the establishment and the DCA license should already be on the wall. What’s next – labels on all machines?

NOTE AND UPDATE: The DCA, after further examining this cart labeling rule has rescinded it INSOFAR as retail laundries are concerned. Mandatory labeling remains in place for the two other laundry license categories.

There are regulations governing vehicle identification, notification of sale of the business, minimum standards for cleanliness and hygiene and posting-YES POSTING—of hygienic procedures for certain licensees.

HOW TO AVOID VIOLATIONS

The handout: Inspection Checklist: Laundry Services, is a good start and should be MUST reading for every operator. There are a lot of rules and regulations and this little handout is extremely helpful. It is the TRIVIAL PURSUIT of laundry law. With all DCA laundry licenses set to expire by the end of this year and the new licensing mandates and procedures in effect, it’s time to get ready to comply.

 

About the Author:

Michael Shapiro

Michael A. Shapiro, Esq. (Cornell University ILR, 1978; Hofstra Law School 1981) is a member of the Law Firm of Kramer & Shapiro , P.C.  Michael has been actively involved in the laundromat industry for nearly four decades having represented laundry owners and operators, manufacturers, distributors and industry lenders where he has built lifetime friendships, even with New York Yankee fans.