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Jersey City Council Considers Proposal to Strengthen Building Safety Rules

On July 14, 2021, the Jersey City Council will consider changes to the Property Maintenance Codes aimed at strengthening existing rules around building safety for both residential and non-residential buildings. After the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Florida, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced proposed rules that would require more frequent structural and façade inspections of mid- and high-rise buildings to identify issues and compel owners and managers to undertake repairs before they become a risk to the public. “Jersey City has the most high-rise buildings than any other municipality in New Jersey, with various building structures and ages, and so our goal is to strengthen our policies in order to provide the best protection for our residents and the community at large,” said Fulop.

The proposed rule changes include enhancements to both structural and building envelope requirements. Under the measures, all concrete residential and commercial buildings above six stories must perform a visual structural inspection by a licensed third-party engineer at least every ten years. The inspection will include but not be limited to structural foundations, balconies, any appurtenant structures, all structural members, and waterproofing conditions. Owners of buildings above six stories or buildings above four stories with masonry facades must have the exterior walls inspected every five years, similar to New York City’s Façade Inspection Safety Program (formerly Local Law 11). A licensed architect or engineer must subsequently prepare a report for each type of inspection and provide it to the city’s Division of Construction Code Official.

Should the council adopt the proposed rules, failure to comply with these requirements will subject the building owners to fines and penalties. The proposal is not final and may be revised after input by residents and building owners and debate by the Council.