Two unit bldg does not have a back door

9 Replies

I looked at a 2-unit bldg. in a not so great neighborhood. The lower unit  looks like the bedroom was an  addition and the building for does not have a backdoor. Should this be a concern, as far as being able to rent, especially for Section 8 purposes? Has anyone ever run into a situation like this?

While I do not know the local fire code in Baltimore, here If the building does not have a secondary exit for both units (regulations differ a little depending on whether either entrance/exit is shared vs independent), they would not be legal accommodations.

You likely have several issues that could be a deal breaker. NFPA 101 the Life Safety Code that applies here and it is very specific on means of egress (exits) and travel distances to those points of egress (exits).

Also a concern here is the addition being an approved/permitted space

Section 8 not withstanding if the addition wasn't a permitted addition you'll likely will be taking a significant risk that should a tragic event take place there with a loss of life or serious injury you'll have no place to hide as most insurance companies will not pay your claims plus the civil and criminal penalties are severe!

Not having experience with Section 8 I cannot say with certainty that you would not pass muster with this property, however if the housing authority does do their due diligence on a property I suspect that any shortcomings will quickly become apparent and would likely sink your chances of qualifying that property for Section 8.

As with all property purchases due diligence is Essential.

Best wishes for a profitable future.

Make sure that the property is Legally known to the city an 2 units property. 

If its not a Duplex you may have cod violation issues.... 

@Wave Taylor   A dwelling unit does not need to have two (2) doors pass code.  Windows of certain size work as egress means.  Think of all those apartments that you rented or visited that only had one (1) door to enter.

Agree with others, that you should make sure the work was permitted and approved.

Originally posted by @Mike Wood :

@Wave Taylor   A dwelling unit does not need to have two (2) doors pass code.  Windows of certain size work as egress means.  Think of all those apartments that you rented or visited that only had one (1) door to enter.

Agree with others, that you should make sure the work was permitted and approved.

Mike:

While windows with openings of a certain size do provide and avenue of egress, two separate doorway exists may still be required - particularly if one opens into a common interior space.  Checking local code requirements is essential.

A comparison of a residential (1-4 unit) property to an apartment block is mis-leading.  Larger buildings have fire alarms and sprinkler systems; fire walls; wider hallways and stairwells with double exits, etc ... all measures to increase the available window to exit a building in the event of a fire.

@Roy N. There are no requirements in national codes (IRC or IBC) that required two (2) doors for egress for typical residential units.  In the case you are stating, one of the doors would not qualify for egress requirements per the code.  Egress doors must open directly into the public way or to a yard or exterior court that is open to the public way (IRC), similar in IBC.   

Each dwelling unit must have one main egress door, as well as each sleeping room, basement and habitable attic must have a means of emergency escape (door or egress window).

Additionally, the code (IBC) for 3+ units is much, much more strict than the code for 1-2 unit buildings (IRC).  In general, you will not find many instances in the code where a second egress door is required (occupancy load of 10 or more per unit).

Where you live, you may have local requirements that your city/county require an additional egress door, but it is not something that is in the national codes.

@Wave Taylor I would definitely make sure with the local building inspectors and/or zoning departments to make sure the property is up to code. This could be a major nightmare if you don't ask ahead of time. If in doubt...ask first in this type of situation.

@Mike Wood

I never stated the requirement was one of  the National Code.  I understand the position of the IRC & IBC - and here, the National Building Code of Canada - and you are correct.  However, our experience has been that local jurisdictions frequently layer their own requirements atop of the national code - and have worked in places where the local code requirements required second doorways in dwelling units not protected by sprinkler systems (we are working on one such project now).

Hence my suggestion to verify local code (for Baltimore in the OPs instance).