Bathroom Break – Single Occupant Toilets Go Gender Neutral

By Brian Redlein

Taking a break from the Summer Energy Code Update Watch, On June 28th City Council Enacted Local Law 79 of 2016.  This law mandates that all single occupant toilet rooms be gender neutral – even existing ones.  Owners of existing toilets have until January 2017 to install gender neutral signage in all single occupant, or “unisex” toilet rooms, as from that point on anyone will be able to use single occupant toilets.

The upside is we can actually count single occupant toilet rooms towards our Plumbing Code Section 403 (PC 403) mandated toilet counts regardless of the gender breakdown, without having to actually go beyond the Code and add additional toilets.  The way it works is this:  say PC Table 403.1 says based on my occupancy I need ten toilets, five for the ladies and five for the men.  It used to be that those toilets had to be provided to each sex in split sex bathrooms with gender specific signage.  Now I can have say, four toilets for the ladies, four toilets for the males, and two single occupant gender neutral toilets and I can still make my overall required count of ten toilets total.  To be clear providing single-occupant gender neutral toilets is not mandatory – yet.  Just any single toilet and lavatory bathroom in the City must be gender neutral going forward.

For some forward thinking owners and tenants this will be a boon.  We’ve already gotten questions in the office from multiple clients inquiring about providing gender neutral toilets.  Before the 28th of this month we had to tell them, “sure you can, but you’ll have to provide them in addition to the split-sex required toilets”.  Now it’s a different story.

The downside is there’s an awful lot of toilet signage that will need replaced in the next six months, and no, you won’t need a permit from DOB to swap your signs out.