California State Balcony Inspection Law, also known as Senate Bill 721 (SB 721), was introduced in response to a tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley, California in 2015. Six people died and seven others were injured when a fifth-floor balcony collapsed during a birthday party. The cause of the collapse was later attributed to water damage caused by rotting wooden support beams.
SB 721, which took effect on January 1, 2019, requires regular inspections of exterior elevated elements, such as balconies, decks, and stairs, in apartment buildings, condominiums, and other multi-family residential properties with three or more units. The law is designed to improve public safety by identifying and addressing potential hazards before they result in injuries or fatalities.
Who is Affected by the California State Balcony Inspection Law?
The California State Balcony Inspection Law applies to all multi-family residential buildings in California with three or more units, including apartments, condominiums, and townhouses. The law also applies to hotels, motels, and other commercial buildings with sleeping accommodations.
Property owners, managers, and homeowners' associations (HOAs) are responsible for complying with the requirements of the law. Inspections must be conducted by a licensed architect, structural engineer, or contractor with experience in inspecting exterior elevated elements.
What Are the Requirements of the California State Balcony Inspection Law?
Under the California State Balcony Inspection Law, all exterior elevated elements in covered properties must be inspected at least once every nine years. The inspection must be performed by a licensed architect, structural engineer, or contractor who has experience in inspecting exterior elevated elements.
The inspection must include a visual assessment of all exterior elevated elements, including balconies, decks, stairs, walkways, and landings. The inspector must also examine the structural integrity of the elements, including the connections between the elements and the building structure.
If the inspector identifies any potential hazards, such as water damage, dry rot, or corrosion, the property owner or manager must take corrective action to address the issue. Depending on the severity of the hazard, corrective action may involve repairs, replacement, or reinforcement of the affected element.
What Happens if Property Owners Fail to Comply with the California State Balcony Inspection Law?
Property owners who fail to comply with the California State Balcony Inspection Law may face significant legal and financial consequences. In addition to the risk of injury or loss of life, property owners may be subject to fines, penalties, and lawsuits.
Under the law, property owners are required to maintain records of all inspections and corrective actions taken. Failure to maintain accurate records can result in fines and penalties.
In addition, if a balcony or other exterior elevated element collapses and causes injury or death, the property owner may be held liable for damages. Insurance companies may also deny coverage for damages resulting from a collapse if the property owner has not complied with the inspection requirements of the law.
The California State Balcony Inspection Law is an important step in improving public safety and preventing tragedies like the 2015 balcony collapse in Berkeley. Property owners, managers, and homeowners' associations must take their responsibilities under the law seriously and ensure that all exterior elevated elements are inspected regularly and maintained in safe condition.
If you own or manage a multi-family residential property in California, it is essential that you comply with the requirements of the California State Balcony Inspection Law. Failure to do so can result in legal and financial consequences that could have devastating consequences for your tenants and your business.
In order to help clients achieve the compliance deadline and guarantee the security of their facilities, EEEAdvisor is working to educate clients on these criteria and the rules established in SB721 and SB326. Co-founding member of EEEadvisor Engineering, a Southern California-based company that specializes in engineering inspections, is Omid Ghanadiof. According to Senate Bills 721 and 326, EEEadvisor Engineering helps homeowners associations (HOAs) and owners of rental properties comply with state requirements for balcony inspections. Contact Mr. Ghanadiof at (805) 312-8513 or http://info@EEEadvisor.com for additional details.