The Department of Licenses and Inspections appreciates the opportunity to contribute to this month’s HAPCO Newsletter. Read on for information about upcoming deadlines for some HAPCO members and changes to the 2012 Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law.


Fire Escapes

Bill No. 160462, passed by City Council last year, amended the Philadelphia Fire and Property Maintenance Codes to require that building owners have fire escapes and fire balconies regularly inspected by a licensed professional engineer with experience in structural engineering.

Pursuant to the bill, the engineer must conduct an inspection, provide the building owner a full report on the inspection, and submit a summary of the report to L&I. The inspection report must include a classification of the condition of the fire escape/balcony or façade as Safe; Unsafe; or, if the condition is not currently Unsafe but will become so unless specified repairs and maintenance are completed, as Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program. If the report:

  • Identifies any Unsafe conditions, you have 24 hours to take actions necessary to protect public safety, including posting notice of the condition inside the building; 3 days to apply for necessary permits to repair the fire escape/balcony; and 10 days to begin work to correct the condition. Following the repairs, the engineer has two weeks to reinspect and submit an updated report.
  • Identifies any conditions as Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program, you are responsible for taking the actions identified in the report to keep the conditions from becoming Unsafe.
  • Classifies your fire escapes/balconies as Safe, they will be tagged with weather-resistant placards that include the date of inspection and the date of the next required inspection.

Due Date: Inspections, reports, and summaries are due July 1, 2017, or ten years after the construction of your building, whichever comes last, and then every five years thereafter. If you have restored your fire escapes/balconies since June 30, 2016, you may request an extension of the due date for your first inspection by contacting L&I at

For more information and required forms, please see the L&I website at


Similarly, Bill No. 090568-AAA, which went into effect in 2010, requires regular professional inspection of the façades of buildings that are 6 or more stories in height or are higher than 60 feet at any point. Façades include a building’s exterior walls except for those areas of the walls that are less than 12” from the exterior wall of an adjacent building. Façade inspections may be carried out by either a licensed professional engineer knowledgeable in the design, construction, and inspection of building façades or a licensed registered architect with these qualifications. The bill requires that the engineer is to give the building owner a full report on the inspection, and submit a summary to L&I.

Due Date:  All building owners should have submitted at least one report by now. If you have not had your building façade inspected and submitted a report in more than five years, you are required to do so  by July 1, 2017.If your façade was renovated since June 30, 2012, you may request an extension of the due date for your first façade inspection from L&I at

For more information and required forms, please see the L&I website at


Since 2012, the Lead Disclosure Law, found in the Philadelphia Health Code, has required landlords to ensure that rental properties are Lead Safe or Lead Free when the properties (1) were built before 1978 and (2) are or will be occupied by children aged six years or younger. If you are a landlord whose properties fall into this category, the law requires you to have a certified lead inspector test the properties for lead every two years and provide you with a certificate stating that the property is Lead Safe or Lead Free. This certificate must be signed by your tenant, who gets a copy, and sent, along with results of the dust-wipe testing performed to detect lead, to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Unfortunately, although approximately 26,000 rental units are occupied by children aged 6 or younger, only a few thousand Lead Safe or Lead Free certifications are submitted to the Health Department. To encourage compliance with the Lead Disclosure Law, including submission of certificates to the Health Department, L&I has changed the language on the rental license application. As you know if you’ve obtained or renewed your rental license recently, the new language takes you step-by-step through the determination whether you must obtain and submit a certificate, and requires that you certify that you are in compliance with the law.

Here’s an example of what you might see when you renew your license online through L&I’s eClipse system:

Bill No. 160687-AAA Lead Paint Disclosure was passed and signed by Mayor Kenney on March 7, 2017.

The bill goes into effect on April 8, 2017.

There is a new Lead Disclosure and Certification Addendum that must be placed in all new leases.  For your convenience, HAPCO has placed the Lead Disclosure and Certification Addendum under links for you to download.

Carolyn Picture

President Harvey Spear presenting gift to retiring Board Member Carolyn Smith at the May Board meeting.

Carolyn Smith can easily be defined as a woman of faith, job, value and substance. Her dynamic, focused and purposeful 26-year contribution to HAPCO as a board member is proof of that.

Smith always had an eye toward real estate. In her mid 20’s, she told her then fiancé that she wanted to flip houses. At the time, she was working for a major insurance company where she quickly rose in the ranks, eventually taking on a management position. After 18-years with that firm, she was unfortunately laid off.  With her newly acquired free time, she decided that now was when she would go into real estate, as she’d dreamed. She’d begun going to the library daily, reading anything she could get her hands on about the industry for six months. Armed with knowledge, and partnered with a contractor friend, her real estate career began exactly as she envisioned so many years before: buying and selling properties. Eventually, she transitioned from flipping to holding, and became a landlord. She soon learned that the idea of landlords being rich due to their property was often false, as there were varying fees and taxes imposed on them, often making it hard for them to see much profit.

Willie BM

Longtime Board Member & Past President Willie Seward celebrated his 88th birthday at the May Board meeting.

She was invited by Bill Becker to see what HAPCO was about, but he knew that she would make a great board member and brought her with intentions of a successor for his board position. As a board member, she’s made it her mission to aid in strategizing against and fighting the legislation that made it hard for landlords to profit in their business.

She was a member of various committees including the Section 8 Committee where she found the most value and the greatest ability to contribute. Through her time spent there, she was able to help HAPCO effect legislative change in regards to landlords in this area. This was something she found important and realized there were many in the city who were oblivious to their landlord rights and the laws coming that would have a bearing on the way they did business. For this reason, Smith was a great advocate for HAPCO encouraging membership and generally sharing the information that she feels she would not have been able to access without her membership and involvement.

Of the many things that she’d encountered in HAPCO, Smith feels that she will miss the people the most. Though there were often differing opinions that left a room full of people in dissent, she knows that they are all well-intended and feels that she truly left with friends, bound by the common goal of making Philadelphia better fro landlords and those they effect.

As she is sitting at the edge of her HAPCO career, she is proud of the work she has done, and even the fact that she has influenced both her daughter and daughter-in-law to be in real estate. She is most looking forward to the time that she will be spending with her grand children and the future ventures she has planned.

We are grateful for your service and dedication to HAPCO’s mission. You will be greatly missed!

Our guest speaker this month is, Lee M. Shlamowitz, Esq. with LMS Legal LLC.
The discussion will be an overview of defaults and remedies regarding residential leases in Philadelphia County.
Lee will provide an overview of common breaches made by both the landlord and tenant.

Lunch and Learn Classes are FREE to all HAPCO /GPAR/DIG members as a benefit of membership
Please join us: Thursday, June 9th, 2016 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtor’s
1341 N. Delaware Ave. Ste 200
Philadelphia, PA 19125

To register, please contact Donna Lepera 215-423-9381 or