New laws get passed all the time. As a landlord or building manager, you get used to the ever-changing requirements from local, state, and federal governments and bureaucrats. Of course, you rarely like the new laws, but you’ve come to realize that laws and regulations come with the territory, and you have likely learned to work within the systems that govern your line of work.
If you own or manage an apartment building or condo complex in California with balconies, exterior staircases, or elevated walkways, you’ve likely heard about SB 721 and SB 326. These two laws now require that exterior elevated elements be regularly inspected to make sure they are safe. When the laws were first passed, you probably thought to yourself, “I have plenty of time to comply with the law. I’m not going to worry about it right now.” However, the deadline to have the first set of inspections completed is now rapidly approaching. Yes, the January 2025 deadline is still more than a year away, but it will be here before you know it!
If you decide to wait until the end of 2024 to start the process, you may find yourself in a tough spot. Unfortunately, there are very few people who are both qualified and willing to complete the inspections required by SB 721 and SB 326. While there are plenty of professionals who are technically qualified to inspect apartment and condo balconies, per the laws, not many are willing to do so.
According to the laws, “The inspection shall be performed by a licensed architect; licensed civil or structural engineer; a building contractor holding any or all of the ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C-5’ license classifications issued by the Contractors’ State License Board, with a minimum of five years’ experience, as a holder of the aforementioned classifications or licenses, in constructing multistory wood frame buildings; or an individual certified as a building inspector or building official from a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction. These individuals shall not be employed by the local jurisdiction while performing these inspections.”
After reading this, if you’re thinking you can just call up a local architect, engineer, or contractor and schedule a time to have him or her come out to do inspections, you should think again. Most of them haven’t taken the time to familiarize themselves with the new laws, and if they have, they may have determined that doing the inspections and completing the required follow-up report is not how they want to spend their working hours. What you’ll likely have to do is find a company that is advertising their inspection services. My company, Diamond Touch Strategies, is one company that is doing this, but there are others out there as well.
The key is to find a company you can trust. You need to be certain that the inspector you hire understands the law’s requirements and completes them to the letter. They need to complete the required inspection report and provide you with a copy to have on hand in case a government official ever requests to see it. The report should include detailed descriptions of the items inspected and call out any that need repairs.
It may take more time and effort than you anticipated to find a qualified and willing inspector, so start now! Don’t wait until the end of 2024 to start your search, or you may find that all available inspectors are booked well into 2025. Missing the January 1, 2025 deadline can mean steep fines, but there’s no downside to getting the inspections done early.short url: