After a man fell to his death when his apartment balcony's railing gave way, the Department of Buildings found that 16 buildings have unsafe balconies. The DOB said, "Following the tragic accident in March, the department has intensified its focus on facade safety and as a result we have issued partial vacate orders to buildings whose balconies pose a risk to the tenants."
When Conor Donovan died at 330 East 39th Street, it turned out that the building failed to inspect its balconies as required. In its investigation, the NY Times says the DOB basically needed to spy: "Teams have been conducting street-level examinations, with inspectors and engineers peering up at balconies with binoculars and entering buildings for physical inspections. They have found loose railings, crumbing concrete and unsecured railing posts."
One resident of an Upper West Side building whose balconies were deemed dangerous told the Times, "My first reaction was, Oh, my God, thank goodness nothing happened." The DOB also discovered another 800 buildings' owners haven't filed balcony inspection reports.