What is Local Law 11?

by | Last updated Jul 9, 2024 | FISP Local Law 11, NYC DOB

You may have heard of Local Law 11, a regulation in New York City that requires regular inspections, repairs, and maintenance of buildings.


What is Local Law 11 in New York City?

In NYC Local Law 11 of 1998 also referred to as the Façade Inspection Safety Program or FISP, requires that all buildings over six stories have their facades inspected every five years by an Architect or Engineer who must also be a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector or QEWI a status granted by the NYC Department of Buildings.

When the QEWI completes their inspection report they submit the building in one of three categories: Safe, SWARP, or Unsafe. Any deficiencies must be corrected in an allotted period of time depending on the building’s status. After the deficiencies are remedied the QEWI will issue an amended report with the updated status.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of Manhattan based architecture firm Fontan Architecture. In this post I am going to review a few key points explaining Local Law 11 and why it exists.


What Is the Purpose of Local Law 11?

On multiple occasions in New York City people have been killed by falling debris from building facades. This is why the City of New York enacted Local Law 11 in 1998 to require façade inspections of buildings over six stories in order to protect the safety of the public. 

In 1979 a college student was killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a building façade. After her death Mayor Ed Koch enacted Local Law 10/80.

Local Law 11 was enacted in 1998 after a large section of brick wall collapsed on Madison Avenue in 1997.  New York City created more comprehensive requirements to previous regulations, and enacted Local Law 11/98 which is now referred to as FISP.

In 2015 a two year old was killed by falling debris. In 2019 a woman was killed by falling debris as well in New York City. In the case of 2019 case criminal charges were brought against the building owner.


How Does Local Law 11 Work?

The process for Local Law 11 runs on a five year cycle. When a building is due the owner must hire an Architect or Engineer who also holds the status of QEWI at the NYC Department of Buildings. The QEWI must inspect the building and assess its conditions in accordance with the Façade Inspection & Safety Program requirements.

Upon completion of the assessment the QEWI will file a report with the DOB and place the building in one of three categories. SAFE, SWARMP (Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program), or UNSAFE. Unsafe being the most serious condition.

SAFE: A building is deemed safe if it has no deficiencies and no repairs are needed. If it is in Safe status, no further action is required after the report is submitted to DOB. The owner will wait until the next cycle to perform the inspection again.

SWARMP: SWARMP stands for Safe With A Repair and Maintenance Program. These buildings do not impose an immediate hazard but have some deficiencies that need repair. An architect or engineer must prepare a plan to rectify any deficiencies and eventually file an amended report to change the building’s status. 

UNSAFE: If the building has any conditions that could be hazardous to the public, it is classified as Unsafe. Immediate steps need to be taken to protect the public from UNSAFE buildings such as providing a sidewalk bridge scaffold. The architect or engineer must prepare a plan to repair the building and file for approval and permits with the DOB. A Contractor will then perform the repairs per the architect or engineer’s specifications. When the repairs are complete, the architect or engineer will perform a new inspection and submit an amended report to DOB to upgrade the building’s status.

Local Law 11 Façade Inspection

Local Law 11 Façade Inspection


5 Year Cycles

Local Law 11 works on a five-year cycle. Cycle 10 starts in 2025. Each cycle has three sub-cycles: A, B, & C. You can see another post we wrote on LL11 Cycle 10 for more information on dates and deadlines.



QEWI stands for Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. An architect or engineer who can prove they have sufficient experience in facade assessment, design, and repair can become authorized as a QEWI by the NYC Department of Buildings. 

QEWI performing an NYC FISP Inspection

QEWI performing an NYC FISP Inspection


Local Law 11 in NYC

Local Law 11 exists to protect the public from potentially falling debris. Ignoring these requirements not only poses a hazard but will also incur violations and penalties on the property. It is important that all buildings are properly inspected and maintained to avoid dangerous conditions.

Local Law 10/11 of 1998 applies to all buildings in NYC over six stories: Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. 


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Local Law 11/98.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to speak with an architect about a potential project, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly. Learn about our NYC Facade Inspection Services.


Contact Fontan Architecture

Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.