Do all units require two egresses? New Jersey Multi-Family

6 Replies

I'm currently looking into a buying a multifamily property in New Jersey. It was once a two family, converted to 3 units many years ago. According to the owner it's been grand fathered in (still need to find out what that means) and he has no issues with zoning.

One thing I did notice is that a unit on the 2nd floor only has a single egress, just the front door on the 1st floor. 

Is this legal?

Only way I can see this being allowed is since it's only a 2 story residence?

Any thoughts or insights would be appreciated.

@Chris T. Check with the local code enforcement officer for direction here. Each municipality is different in their requirements for egress. In my area just a ground level entry door for the 2nd floor unit would be acceptable so long as the bedroom windows are minimum egress size (5.7 sq/ft and at least 20" wide) and they are not above a certain height from the ground (I forget the exact distance off hand).

Your laws are probably different though. 

@Chris T. as @Ryan Murdock said, check your local zoning & building codes. But most places require two forms of egress, one is the entry door and the other could be the window if it is of a certain size. 

In Connecticut they do... Sorry, I know that doesn't help you much as far as NJ goes... lol

@Chris T. In regards to the property being “grandfathered in as a 3 unit” I went through the same thing with one of my properties...I called the state of NJ and they told me that it was in fact a 3 fam but the city had registered as a two fam. The state supplied me with proof and they city changed my advice is to get paper trail and call the state. Secondly, yes every unit would have to have two forms of egress in NJ, now of it didn’t have a back door you might be able to get away with putting a fire escape but I would speak to the city and find out!

Most cities have a planning desk that is open to the public without an appointment. You walk in to city hall and sit down with a planner and they will review your property, codes and let you know exactly what you need to do. It's a great resource, people should use it more often. It's free, immediately available and you are talking to the people who will actually issue your permit and sometimes inspect the work, so you are getting your information straight from the horses mouth.

That said, safety of your tenants should be of your utmost concern. Whenever I have a thought like the one you are having and concerned about cost- I start to think, what if there were a fire and I rented to a family and they couldn't or didn't escape? I'd be thinking back about my concerns about spending money on egress and then I'd never be able to sleep again. I don't want to have those thoughts or regrets, so regardless of being "grandfathered" or not, I'd suck it up and get the egress up to code.

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