Skip to Content

Senate Bill 721 | California balcony inspection law

stack of papers

What is SB 721?

SB 721 is a California state law that was enacted to protect the safety of individuals who use elevated structures such as decks and balconies. The law requires property owners to perform regular inspections on these structures and make necessary repairs or upgrades to ensure their safety. SB 721 law was passed in response to a tragic balcony collapse in 2015 that killed six people and injured seven others.

SB 721 California Law & Deck Requirements

SB 721 went into effect on January 1, 2019, and requires property owners of buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units to complete a visual inspection of all exterior elevated elements, such as balconies, decks, stairways, and walkways, until January 1, 2025.

The inspections must be conducted by a licensed contractor, architect, engineer, or building inspector with expertise in structural and safety issues.

If any deficiencies or hazards are identified during the inspection, the property owner must take corrective action to remedy the issues. The law also requires property owners to keep records of inspections and repairs for at least five years and to provide copies of these records to tenants upon request.

How Often Should Balconies Be Inspected?

Senate Bill 721 (SB 721) requires balcony inspections and any other exterior elevated elements be inspected every six years by a licensed structural engineer or architect to ensure their safety.

Which Buildings are Affected by SB-721?

If your property has balconies or other exterior elevated elements that are more than six feet above ground level, more than six feet in length, and have a walking surface supported by wood or wood-based products, you must comply with SB 721. The inspection must be performed by a licensed professional, and a written report must be submitted to you detailing the condition of the balconies or other elevated elements.

If the inspection reveals any issues that could compromise the safety of the balcony or other elevated element, you have 120 days to complete any necessary repairs or replacements. Failure to comply with the law can result in fines and other penalties.

While complying with SB 721 may seem like an additional expense, it is crucial to ensure the safety of your tenants and protect yourself from legal liability. If a balcony or other elevated element collapses and causes injury or death, you could be held responsible if you did not comply with the law.

Additionally, taking action to repair or replace balconies or other elevated elements can be a selling point for your property. Potential tenants or buyers will appreciate your commitment to safety and responsible building management.

What are Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs)?

Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs) refer to structural components of a building that extend beyond exterior walls and are designed for human use. They have a walking surface more than 6 feet above ground level and load-bearing components made of wood or wood-based products. Examples of EEEs include balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways, and entry structures.

Do I need a balcony inspection?

In conclusion, as a multi-unit property owner in California, it is essential to comply with SB 721 to ensure the safety of your tenants and protect yourself from legal liability. By taking action to inspect, repair, and replace balconies or other elevated elements, you can also attract potential tenants or buyers who value safety and responsible building management.

If you still doubt the need for an inspection, from our experience you should not put it off until later, because first of all you will know exactly the condition of your property and, if necessary, you will have enough time to prepare for the requirements that the new law brings with it. We can advise you with confidence that the North American Home Services company provides detailed and professional stair, deck and balcony inspection.

Share To: