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Updated: Mar 23, 2023

The Berkeley tragedy resulted as a wake-up call for California legislators, who then enacted Senate Bill 721 (also known as the Balcony Bill) in September 2018. Any multi-family residential buildings with three units or more must be inspected, as well as any balconies, decks, porches, stairways, pathways, and entry structures that extend beyond the building's external walls. This regulation is designed to make sure that these buildings are risk-free for both tenants and bystanders, as well as safe and secure.

It is significant to remember that, for the most part, the Balcony Bill does not call for urgent action. Yet, in order to assure legal compliance with upcoming transactions, lenders, investors, and buyers of real estate might want to check relevant data. The Balcony Bill's criteria must be understood if you intend to acquire or sell a multi-family residential property with three or more units.

Balconies, decks, porches, stairways, pathways, entry structures, along with their supports and railings, are all considered "elevated exterior components" according to the bill. Unless there are no elevated exterior elements intended for human occupancy higher than six feet off the ground or the structural support or stability of any elevated exterior elements does not depend entirely or primarily on wood or wood-based products, any building with more than two residential units must be inspected.

Developments of a common interest are exempt from the rules. To be sold to the general public after January 1, 2019, any building that is required to be converted into condominiums must, however, be inspected before the first close of escrow. The regulation mandates that at least 15% of each sort of raised exterior element be evaluated. The evaluation of load-bearing components and related waterproofing components must be done by direct visual inspection or an equivalent process. The obligation applies to 15% of each part, not 15% of structures or units, as is crucial to understand. 15% of each form of balcony may need to be evaluated in buildings with multiple types of balconies. The initial inspection must be finished by January 1, 2025, and subsequent inspections must be finished by or before January 1, 2031, or every six years after that date. The inspection can be carried out by a certified building inspector or official who is not employed by the local jurisdiction while carrying out these inspections, or by a licensed civil or structural engineer, licensed architect, general contractor with an A, B, or C-5 license and at least five years' experience in building multistory wood frame buildings.

In conclusion, balcony safety is a critical issue that requires attention and action from all parties involved, from property owners and managers to tenants and inspectors. The Balcony Bill is an important step towards ensuring the safety of residents in multi-family residential buildings with elevated exterior elements. By requiring inspections every six years and evaluation of at least 15% of each type of exterior elevated element, the law aims to prevent future tragedies and protect the public. If you are a condo shopper in California, it is important to be aware of the implications of the Balcony Bill and to review related reports when considering purchasing or investing in a property. By taking these steps, we can work towards creating safer living environments for all Californians.

In order to comply with California State Laws SB326 and SB721, it is important that you hire a balcony inspector to be able to check for any problems within your balcony and any exterior elevated element. Here at EEE Advisor, we can help you comply with California state laws, but also ensure that your building is safe for use for your family and tenants.


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