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 and Façades: UPCOMING INSPECTION DEADLINES

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 fireescapereports@phila.gov.

For more information and required forms, please see the L&I website at http://www.phila.gov/li/Pages/PermitsCertificates.aspx.

Façades

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 facadereports@phila.gov.

For more information and required forms, please see the L&I website at http://www.phila.gov/li/Pages/PermitsCertificates.aspx.

LEAD DISCLOSURE LAW IMPLEMENTATION

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: