Updated: Mar 23
If you're in the market for a condo in California, you may have heard about the balcony law and how it could impact your purchase. The balcony law is a set of regulations aimed at improving the safety of multi-unit residential buildings with elevated exterior elements, such as balconies and decks. In this blog post, we'll explore the implications of the balcony law for condo shoppers in California.
Background on the Balcony Law
The balcony law, officially known as Senate Bill 721, was enacted in California in response to a deadly balcony collapse in Berkeley in 2015. Six people were killed and seven others were injured when a balcony gave way during a birthday party. The tragedy brought attention to the need for improved safety standards for balconies and other exterior elevated elements on multi-unit residential buildings.
Senate Bill 721 requires building owners to inspect balconies and other exterior elevated elements on multi-unit residential buildings with three or more units at least once every six years. The inspections must be conducted by a licensed contractor, architect, or structural engineer, and must include a review of the structure's load-bearing components and waterproofing systems. If any deficiencies are found, the building owner must take corrective action within a specified timeframe.
Implications for Condo Shoppers
1. Increased safety: The balcony law is designed to improve the safety of multi-unit residential buildings with exterior elevated elements, which can be prone to deterioration and structural issues over time. As a condo shopper, this means you can have greater peace of mind knowing that the building's balconies and decks have been inspected and maintained to a certain standard.
2. Higher costs: Building owners are responsible for the cost of inspections and any necessary repairs or replacements. These costs could be significant, especially for older buildings or those with a history of deferred maintenance. As a condo shopper, you may want to consider how the cost of complying with the balcony law could impact your monthly HOA fees or other expenses.
3. Disclosure requirements: Building owners are required to disclose the results of the most recent balcony inspection to all current and prospective tenants, as well as the local building department upon request. As a condo shopper, you have the right to review the building's inspection reports and ask questions about any deficiencies or corrective actions taken.
4. Potential legal liability: If a balcony or other exterior elevated element fails and causes injury or property damage, the building owner could be held liable. The balcony law aims to reduce the risk of such incidents by requiring regular inspections and corrective action. As a condo shopper, it's important to be aware of the potential legal implications of owning a unit with a balcony or deck.
5. Impact on resale value: If a building has a history of a balcony or other exterior elevated element issues, it could impact the unit's resale value. Prospective buyers may be hesitant to purchase a unit in a building with a history of safety concerns or costly repairs.
The balcony law has important implications for condo shoppers in California, particularly in terms of safety, cost, disclosure requirements, legal liability, and resale value. As you consider potential condo purchases, it's important to ask questions about the building's compliance with the balcony law, as well as its history of maintenance and any past incidents. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent can help you navigate complex regulations and make informed decisions about your condo purchase. 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.