Who Is Liable for Compliance with SB326 Inspections?

Liable for Compliance with SB326 Inspection


SB326, also known as the Balcony Safety Bill, is a legislative mandate designed to ensure the safety and structural strength of balconies and other elevated exterior elements in multi-family residential buildings in California. This is why understanding liability for compliance with SB326 is crucial for property owners and managers in California.

A licensed architect or structural engineer must perform these inspections, and the findings must be documented and addressed quickly to prevent potential hazards. In this blog, we will understand who is liable for compliance with SB326. But before doing so, let’s understand the need for SB326 Inspections law.

The Importance of SB326 Inspections

Governor Newsom signed SB326 into law on August 30, 2019, introducing two new sections to the Civil Code. Known as the Balcony Law, this legislation aims to prevent future collapses by ensuring the stability of condominium balconies, decks, and walkways. Sadly, in 2015, a balcony in Berkeley, California, did collapse. Six people lost their lives, and seven others were injured in this tragic incident. This heartbreaking event highlighted the crucial need for strict laws regarding balcony inspections. 

Exterior Elevated Elements Covered by SB326 Inspections

The passage of SB326 in California has brought a heightened focus on the inspection and maintenance of Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs) in multi-family residential buildings. This legislative measure aims to enhance public safety by mandating rigorous assessments of various structural components that pose potential risks if not properly maintained. Let’s discuss about the specific EEEs covered under this regulation:


Balconies are at the forefront of SB326’s scope. Inspections will include not only the visible deck surface but also the hidden structural elements that support these elevated platforms. This complete evaluation includes examining support beams, joists, railings, connections, and the strength of waterproofing systems designed to prevent rot and corrosion. 

Shared & Private Decks

Shared decks located in common areas are unequivocally subject to inspection under SB326. However, the law also addresses smaller, private decks attached to individual units, provided they exceed certain height or size thresholds. Property owners and managers are advised to consult the specific regulations and seek professional guidance to determine whether their private decks fall within the purview of the law.

Walkways & Exterior Stairs

Elevated walkways connecting buildings or leading to balconies, as well as exterior stairs, are classified as EEEs under SB326. These high-traffic areas are crucial for ensuring safe passage, and inspectors will rigorously assess their structural integrity. These evaluations include the stability of the structure, the condition of handrails, and the walking surface to prevent potential accidents.

Guardrails and Railings

These are not merely decorative elements; they are essential safety features designed to prevent falls. Inspectors will evaluate their height, design, and structural soundness to ensure compliance with California’s stringent safety standards.

What Should HOA Do to Comply with Sb326 Inspections?

To comply with SB326 inspections, homeowner’s associations (HOAs) have the following key responsibilities:

Schedule Inspections: HOAs must arrange for qualified professionals or architects to inspect all exterior elevated elements in the property’s common areas.

Facilitate Repairs: If inspections identify any issues with the EEEs, the HOA is responsible for quickly and properly addressing the necessary repairs.

Maintain Records: HOAs must keep detailed records of all inspections, repairs, and related communications to demonstrate compliance with SB326 requirements.

By fulfilling these obligations, HOAs can ensure they meet the regulatory standards set forth by SB326 and prioritize the safety of residents within their communities.

What Should a Condo Owner Do?

While HOAs bear the primary responsibility for SB326 compliance, individual condo owners also play an important role. Condo owners should:

Be Aware: Familiarize themselves with SB326 requirements and their HOA’s policies on balcony maintenance.

Report Issues: Quickly report any observed damage or deterioration on their balconies or other EEEs to the HOA.

Participate: As a condo owner, you can get involved in HOA committees or meetings related to maintenance and repairs to prioritize balcony safety and ensure compliance.

By being informed and actively engaged, condo owners can contribute to their community’s adherence to SB326 regulations and promote a safer living environment for all residents.

The Liability Issues After Balcony Accidents

Determining liability can be complex in the unfortunate event of a balcony accident resulting in injury. While HOAs usually bear the primary responsibility for common areas, individual homeowners could also be held accountable depending on the specific circumstances. This is where detailed inspection records become crucial. These records can help prove that the HOA took reasonable steps to maintain the safety of the property, potentially reducing liability for both the association and its members.

What Happens if You Don’t Comply With SB326?

Failure to comply with SB326, the new legislation governing condominium safety and maintenance requirements, can have severe consequences like penalties for condominium associations and individual unit owners. The local building department’s code enforcement officials have the authority to impose significant fines and recover any costs associated with enforcing compliance. 

Moreover, they can place liens on non-compliant properties, which can have far-reaching implications for the property’s value and the ability to sell or refinance. Perhaps even more concerning is the potential loss of property insurance coverage. Insurance carriers are closely monitoring the implementation of SB326, and many have indicated that they will not renew policies for buildings that fail to meet the new safety standards. 


SB326, the Balcony Safety Bill, is a vital law designed to enhance safety and accountability in condominium living. By requiring periodic inspections of structural components like balconies and walkways, this legislation seeks to prevent accidents, safeguard property values, and prioritize the welfare of residents.

Vulcan Vents provides vents that can be installed in condominium buildings, particularly in balcony areas. Our balcony inspection vents not only meet the requirements of SB326 inspections but also undergo thorough testing to ensure compliance with California Building Code Chapter 7A, as well as ASTM E2886 & E119 standards. Contact us today!

Don't forget to share this post!

Leave a Comment