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California SB326 Clarifies Safety Inspection Requirements

Omid Ghanadiof

Oct 3, 2022

SB326 inspection for HOA

California Senate Bill 326 (SB326) of 2019 addresses balcony safety in ways not clearly addressed by Senate Bill 721 (SB721), enacted in 2018. However, a heavy safety burden still rides on homeowner associations (HOAs).

SB721 didn’t address common interest developments nor did it aid HOAs in adequately identifying where its responsibilities for safety and repairs began and ended.

New statutes were added to the Davis-Stirling Act, which regulates how HOAs are operated and created. California Civil Code §5551 mandates that HOAs inspect all areas it owns and maintains. California Civil Code §5986(b) says HOA protective covenants or governing documents can’t impose limitations on an HOA board’s right to pursue civil actions, arbitration, and claims for faulty construction.

Under SB326, HOAs must perform regular safety inspections for the exterior elevated elements (EEEs), considered balconies, decks, patios, walkways, stairways, and balconies. These new rules refer specifically to multifamily projects, condos, and apartments.

How Does SB326 Prevent Tragedies?

Simply put, if a building or structure is regularly inspected, it is easier to repair or replace damaged construction materials sooner, preventing things like dry rot and rust from taking hold and further damaging lumber and metal.

HOAs must make safety a top priority for renters and homeowners. News stories have shown over and over again how the lack of proper maintenance leads to tragedy. Children, pets, and objects have fallen through spaces in railings to the ground below, resulting in deaths and injuries.

SB326 holds HOAs accountable for their properties. After a balcony is installed, regular inspections ensure that the balcony platform, railings, and support structures are secure and load-bearing. When a multifamily complex has a reputation for safety, homeowners and renters are attracted to live there. Peace of mind wins!

Balcony safety inspections are required once every nine years. This new rule is considered a minimum. HOAs may do more and are encouraged to do so. However, it all costs money to somebody.

What is Involved in a Safety Inspection?

  • Step 1—Safety inspectors must create and provide a written report of all EEEs on a property.

  • Step 2 –The findings of a visual inspection must be in the written report.

  • Step 3—Inspectors must recommend repairing or replacing unsafe or damaged structural items. In addition to that, they also offer an estimate of the remaining lifespan and future performance of waterproofing efforts and load-bearing systems.

  • Step 4—The final report includes the inspector’s stamp or signature.

  • Step 5—HOAs are given a copy of the final report. Inspectors take a detailed findings report to municipal or county code enforcement agencies.

  • Step 6—HOAs must take preventative action to address problematic areas.

Call a structural engineering firm or restoration specialty firm today! They can connect HOAs with the right contractors for the job.

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