Berkeley House Code Enforcement and fire escape certifications

With the rising amount of citizens in the city of Berkley, California not meeting the state’s required housing code enforcements, Berkley has put in place two new components to their housing codes to better serve the tenants of their properties and ensure that they are living in safe dwellings. In order to see these changes occur, Berkley has issued an updated version of their Housing Code Enforcement. There are two components: the Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP) and the Exterior Elevated Elements Inspection Program (E3) that were put in place to ensure that the citizens of Berkley have their homes, both internally and externally, up to inspection standards.

When looking at components of housing inspections, it is especially important to evaluate the emergency fire escape outlets that your dwelling hosts. Does your building have external fire escape ladders? Does it have an egress staircase inside that leads to an emergency exit door? These are important factors to consider when preparing a dwelling space for inspection in the city of Berkley, because any citation given by an inspector that requires maintenance is expected to be covered by the property owner.

So, what can be done to prevent receiving a citation from an inspector? One of the best ways to ensure that a property meets the city standards is to ensure that all fire escape methods and routes are kept clean, maintained, and up to fire marshal code. Any exterior fire escapes should be scraped and repainted on a regular basis to ensure that the stairs are not corroded or weathered to where they would break under pressure. It is also important that the traction on the fire escapes should be maintained so that those escaping in the event of a fire do not lose their footing and fall to injury. It is important to be aware of all exits in the living space and to keep them free of clutter at all times. Balconies, staircases, and fire escape exits should all be clear of items blocking their path. It is easy to let items accumulate in these areas because they are seldom used, but in the event of a fire and the need to escape, having to jump over barricades of tossed-aside items would be a hazard.

Renters and tenants alike are expected to comply to Berkley’s housing codes or they are subject to citations. Under the RHSP, renters are in charge of making sure that all dwellings they oversee are kept within inspection standards and are free of safety hazards. The renter and their staff are required to follow up on housing code complaints, whether they be minor or serious. On average, it takes 10 working days for an inspection to occur, less if there is an issue that requires immediate attentions. After the inspection takes place, property owners are expected to fix any issues found within a reasonable timeframe and at their own expense. Under the E3 component, all property owners are required to request inspections to any outside fixtures such as balconies, decks, stairways, and anything else found attached to the outside of a property. This component is especially important when conducting fire safety maintenance checks. It is required that the initial inspection is done within 6 months of owning the property, and every three years following. The ultimate goal of the city of Berkley is to have its multi-story, multiple family dwelling tenants in safe buildings that comply with city codes. These codes are put in place to ensure that tenants are safe at all times inside their dwelling, and in the instance of a fire or other disastrous event that their escape routes are clear and able to sustain those leaving the property.

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