Older condominium associations with balconies were often constructed with rails that were 5 to 6 inches apart. Approximately half of all 13 to 18-month old children can pass through a 5-inch opening. Construction standards have changed over the years because of injuries and deaths of small children who slipped through those railings.
Insurance. Even though older balconies are generally grandfathered by city and county building codes, the insurance industry is pressuring associations to bring railings up to the newer codes. Some insurance carriers have threatened to cancel insurance policies unless the changes are made.
Department of Building & Safety. If your association has balconies with railings more than 4 inches apart, you should consider upgrading them. Contact your insurance carrier and local Building Department for appropriate standards. Even if your insurance carrier is not threatening to cancel your policy, you should start putting aside monies for the rail replacements.
Balcony Inspections. By statute, balconies and other elevated structures must be inspected for structural integrity. Failure to do so creates significant legal exposure for associations.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.