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Maintenance inspections

 Property owners must have certain structures inspected periodically by qualified professionals.

Which structures require a maintenance inspection?

Certain structures in the city need to have specialized inspections. These include:

  • Private bridges.
  • Facades, if a building is:
    • Six or more stories tall.
    • Has any appurtenance more than 60 ft. in height.
  • Fire escapes and balconies.
  • Private piers and other waterfront structures that extend below the waterline of the Delaware River, Schuykill River, or their estuaries.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) audits a random sample of these inspections.

Inspection requirements

Property owners must get inspections within 10 years after the structure is finished. They must get inspections every 5 years after that.

  • Private piers must be inspected every 3 years, and immediately after being hit by a ship or damaged.

Inspections must be conducted by a licensed structural engineer.

  • Facades may be inspected by a licensed registered architect knowledgeable in the design, construction, and inspection of facades.
  • Private piers must be inspected by a team that includes licensed engineers experienced in marine structure construction and design, and commercial divers trained in structural inspections.


Engineers must prepare a report stating whether the structure is safe, unsafe, or safe with a repair and maintenance program.

Safe structures

  • If the structure is safe, or safe with a repair and maintenance program, the engineer must send reports to the owner and a report summary to L&I.
  • If the structure is safe with maintenance or repair, the owner must perform the required maintenance or repair by the deadline given by the engineer or before the structure becomes unsafe, whichever comes first.

Unsafe structures

If the engineer finds that the structure is unsafe, engineers and owners must both take action.

The engineer must:

  • Immediately notify the owner.
  • Notify L&I within 12 hours of inspection.
  • File the full report with L&I within 24 hours of completion.
  • Reinspect the structure once repairs are completed and report back to L&I.

The owner must:

  • Close off the structure or take other actions that will protect public safety within 24 hours of being notified.
  • Apply for necessary permits within 3 days. Before repairing a historic building, the owner must contact the Philadelphia Historical Commission at (215) 686-7660.
  • Begin work to correct the condition within 10 days and continue working until the unsafe condition is fixed.

Where to submit

All forms must use the legal address established by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).


Mail (unsafe notifications and reports only)

L&I Emergency Services Unit

Municipal Services Building, 11th floor
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Work Phone:

From Philadelphia Code: