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    Property Maintenance Code

    Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Corey Friedman on Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:30 pm

    Hi Jerry,

    Scenario: An existing small apartment building (probably built around 1960) with minor drafts at an exterior wall by the baseboard molding and minor drafts at older double hung windows.

    Landlord being required to make certain repairs (stop the drafts) based on 305.1 of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code

    Do you think this is an accurate use of this code section?

    In my opinion it is not. This is not a structural issue or sanitary issue. I think it is a real stretch attempting to apply “maintain in good order” of 305.1. An argument could be made that small drafts are “in good order” as it allows air exchanges. Where in the property maintenance code (or other codes for a basis of reference) does it say that small drafts is "not in good oder?"

    Also, do you think “duct cleaning” is enforceable under 603.1 ?

    As always, your thoughts are appreciated.

    Corey
    Corey Friedman
     
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    Re: Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:45 am

    Hi Corey,

    Someone is mis-applying that section, totally mis-applying it.

    That section addresses: (underlining and bold are mine)
    - SECTION 305 INTERIOR STRUCTURE
    - - 305.1 General. The interior of a structure and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and in a sanitary condition. Occupants shall keep that part of the structure which they occupy or control in a clean and sanitary condition. Every owner of a structure containing a rooming house, housekeeping units, a hotel, a dormitory, two or more dwelling units or two or more nonresidential occupancies, shall maintain, in a clean and sanitary condition, the shared or public areas of the structure and exterior property.

    That section in no way addresses "the structure" aspect.

    This would be the applicable section:
    - SECTION 306 COMPONENT SERVICEABILITY
    - - 306.1 General. The components of a structure and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and in a sanitary condition.

    ... However, this section would be mis-applied for that use as the Property Maintenance Code is not an Energy Code which requires more than the code did at the time of construction, i.e., this code is the Property MAINTENANCE Code, not the Property IMPROVEMENT Code - this code is to address MAINTAINING what was allowed at the time of construction, not improving on it and bringing it up to current code requirements.

    Regarding this question: "Also, do you think “duct cleaning” is enforceable under 603.1 ?", either of the two above two sections, 305.1 and 306.1, could be applied to duct cleaning *IF* the ducts were so filthy so as to be considered in an "unsanitary condition", which would not include or address cleaning ducts under normal conditions and situations, or even most abnormal conditions and situations - only under dire health affecting conditions.

    That code is to address situations and conditions as I read in the paper today (I believe it was today's paper where I read it), I believe it was in the Tampa area, where the police were asked to check on an elderly lady who had not been heard from for a couple of weeks.

    When the police went to check on her, they could not find her in the rubbish filled house and could not search for her due to the stench. The police brought in fire rescue personnel with their SCBA who still could not find the woman. They brought in cadaver dogs who found her body under 8 feet of filth and rubbish not far from the front door.

    Those are they types of conditions the Property Maintenance Code are intended to prevent, not normal "duct cleaning".

    However, yes, if the ducts were filled with roaches, rats, mice, fecal matter, and other unhealthy substances, yes, by all means, apply either section to that.
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    Re: Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Corey Friedman on Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:30 am

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for your fast reply. You share my thoughts on this. I'm gearing up to take on an over aggressive building department on behalf of a landlord.

    I agree with your opinion on 603.1 and duct cleaning. Here's another toughht on that. In addition to what you stated, there is no doubt that a furnace (connected to the ducts) needs routine professional cleaning and maintenance. Seasonal startup, blower replacements, safety feature operations and other realted items that are beyond (usually) a landlord's or occupant's ability. That is the intent behind the code. Duct cleaning (jumping back to 305.1) clearly indicates that the "occupant shall keep that part of the structure which they occupy or control in a clean and sanitary condition"

    Therefore, an occupant who keeps their apartment reasonably clean should not have anything unusual in the ducts. Not withstanding the issues you previously addressed, if their own filth is getting in the ducts because they refuse to clean their apartment properly, it shoould not be a landlords repsonsibility to clean these ducts. That would be like asking the landlord to wash their kitchen floor since the occupant refuses to do so.

    I appreciate your reference to the energy codes. I hadn't thought of that. In addition, I question by what standard or test the maintenance inspector used to determine they are "too drafty".

    Anyway, I'm gearing up for battle. It's go time. I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks again,

    Corey
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    Re: Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:18 pm

    Hi Corey,

    Corey Friedman wrote:Here's another toughht on that. In addition to what you stated, there is no doubt that a furnace (connected to the ducts) needs routine professional cleaning and maintenance. Seasonal startup, blower replacements, safety feature operations and other realted items that are beyond (usually) a landlord's or occupant's ability. That is the intent behind the code. Duct cleaning (jumping back to 305.1) clearly indicates that the "occupant shall keep that part of the structure which they occupy or control in a clean and sanitary condition"


    Here is a section is is more applicable to the above as it specifically addresses "Responsibility"
    - 301.2 Responsibility. The owner of the premises shall maintain the structures and exterior property in compliance with these requirements, except as otherwise provided for in this code. A person shall not occupy as owner-occupant or permit another person to occupy premises which are not in a sanitary and safe condition and which do not comply with the requirements of this chapter. Occupants of a dwelling unit, rooming unit or housekeeping unit are responsible for keeping in a clean, sanitary and safe condition that part of the dwelling unit, rooming unit, housekeeping unit or premises which they occupy and control.

    In addition, I question by what standard or test the maintenance inspector used to determine they are "too drafty".


    The answer to what "should have been used" would have been the energy code or building code requirements which addressed air infiltration and exfiltration in the code *at the time of construction*, if any such requirements existed at the time of construction.

    All structures are "grandfathered in" to remain in existence when in compliance with the codes the structure was constructed under, providing for newer work to remain under the codes in effect at the time of the newer work. Only when substantial improvements are made are portions of, or all of, a structure required to meet current code, and those substantial improvement levels are defined and established in the code.

    Is this a case where a tenant filed a complaint against a landlord and which the city/county became involved? Or what was the reason the city/county inspector was there?
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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    Re: Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Corey Friedman on Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:57 pm

    Hi Jerry,

    This is a case where the tenant (3 months behind on rent) would not allow in contractors to make repairs and then complained to the city about problems in the apartment.

    It's more complicated than this and I'm not sure exactly where this is headed so I want to be careful what I post on an open forum.

    As always, thanks for your insight and help.

    Corey
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    Re: Property Maintenance Code

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:23 am

    Hi Corey,

    Understood,

    Hoping all goes well for you in this.

    If needed, I do have a forum for private questions which is password protected that we can use.

    Jerry
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