On June 16, 2015, a tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, claimed lives and prompted a call to action. In response to this devastating incident, California introduced Senate Bill 326 (SB 326), commonly known as the Balcony Inspection Bill.
The legislation aimed to safeguard residents by mandating the inspection of balconies and other exterior elevated elements in buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units. What happens if property managers and owners fail to comply with SB 326?
What is SB 326?
Senate Bill 326, also known as the Balcony Inspection Law, establishes a critical framework for the mandatory inspection of Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs) in buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units. It was signed into law on August 30, 2019, by Governor Gavin Newsom.
What are the key inspection requirements of SB 326?
Nine-year inspection cycle
Property owners are mandated to obtain a certified balcony inspection report every nine years. This report must comprehensively detail the condition of balconies and other exterior elevated elements, ensuring a thorough assessment of potential safety concerns.
Reporting to the local building department
The inspection report is not merely a formality. Property owners must submit this report to the local building department, creating a comprehensive database of the structural health of multifamily buildings across the state.
Transparency for residents
Upholding transparency, property owners have to make the inspection report available for viewing by residents upon request. This empowers residents with information about the safety of their living spaces.
Visible posting and SB 32
In a move to inform and reassure, property owners must prominently display a copy of the most recent SB 326 inspection report in a conspicuous location. This ensures that the information is easily accessible to all residents and potential buyers.
Statistically significant subset inspection
The bill introduces a robust inspection methodology, requiring property owners to inspect a “random and statistically significant subset” of Exterior Elevated Elements. This is conducted with a 95 percent confidence level and an error margin of ± 5%, ensuring a comprehensive and representative assessment.
What is the impact of a balcony failing to comply with SB 326?
Penalties and fines
Failure to adhere to balcony inspection laws will cost homeowners penalties and fines, leading to financial strain.
Non-compliance with SB 326 inspection law puts property owners at risk of lawsuits in the event of injuries or fatalities resulting from balcony structural issues caused by negligence.
Restricted use of the balcony & SB 326
If a balcony fails safety checks, owners have to restrict access until repairs are complete. If the condition of the balcony falls under immediate threat, repairs must happen immediately. Also, if it’s tagged as no immediate threat, a homeowner is given 120 days upon receipt of the inspection report to apply for a repair permit. Failure to meet the repair deadlines will result in penalties.
Risk to community safety
The tragic balcony collapse that prompted SB 326 not only claimed lives but also, injured others. This means non-compliant balconies pose a broader safety risk to the community.
Loss of insurance coverage
Balconies that fail safety inspections may result in loss of insurance coverage. In the event of damages or liabilities, homeowners will be personally responsible.
SB 326 Final say
Complying with the Balcony Inspection Law is not just a legal requirement but a vital responsibility that you should not underestimate. Homeowners should ensure their balconies pass inspection for their safety and that of their families.
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