Legislation Requiring Structural Inspections of Multi-Family Dwellings In New Jersey Advances; Bill Introduced in Response to Surfside Tragedy

In a move to enhance structural integrity in buildings following the tragic building collapse last year in Surfside, Florida, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee advanced legislation today which aims to strengthen the State Uniform Construction Code Act (UCCA) and “The Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act” (PREDFDA).

The bill is sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and Linda Greenstein.

“Last year, 98 lives were tragically lost in Florida due to the collapse of a multifamily housing structure, which resulted from unresolved, major structural issues,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington).

“Strengthening construction codes and having structural experts conduct inspections will be vital to ensuring the safety of those living in multifamily buildings.”

The bill, S-2760, would supplement the UCCA to require that certain covered buildings and plans be inspected and reviewed by a structural inspector, during the buildings’ pre-construction, construction, and post-construction phases.

The bill would also augment the PREDFDA to assure that associations created under the Act maintain adequate reserve funds to make required maintenance repairs to building components and common areas.

Two Lakewood residents were among the victims of the Surfside tragedy.

“What starts as a hairline crack, can, over time, become a serious structural issue if not addressed in a timely manner,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex).

“This bill would strengthen State standards, requiring in-depth inspections of buildings before, during, and after construction. By taking action to make certain that State construction codes and processes are enforced and adhered to, we can prevent tragedies – like the one just last year in Florida – from affecting New Jersey residents.”

Under current law, the Department of Community Affairs conducts certain building inspections on a cyclical basis. However, these inspections only address maintenance issues and habitability concerns such as heating, infestation, and lead content.

In addition, these cyclical inspections are not required to be conducted by an engineer or other expert.

Some municipalities in New Jersey have already passed their own, similar ordinates.

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 3-1-1 and must now pass the full Senate and Assembly before Governor Murphy can sign it.

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