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Old 21.04.2015, 07:45
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legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

does anyone know the legal requirements for stair cases in a rental property? A colleague of mine told me that legally there has to be a banister a certain width apart (whether vertical or horizontal) as a precaution so children can't fall through.
in the house we were living in, the stairs were completely open on one side with no safety barrier at all. Is this legal? Can anyone point me in the right direction where to find this documented?
Thanks a lot!
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Old 21.04.2015, 09:47
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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does anyone know the legal requirements for stair cases in a rental property? A colleague of mine told me that legally there has to be a banister a certain width apart (whether vertical or horizontal) as a precaution so children can't fall through.
in the house we were living in, the stairs were completely open on one side with no safety barrier at all. Is this legal? Can anyone point me in the right direction where to find this documented?
Thanks a lot!
Hmmm, I know of several houses that are not child proof, the Swiss are used to mountains, cliff drop off's etc.
I know a mountain guide that has nothing over the stairs, like a cliff

Did you not notice this 'issue' when you rented the property?
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Old 21.04.2015, 10:17
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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does anyone know the legal requirements for stair cases in a rental property? A colleague of mine told me that legally there has to be a banister a certain width apart (whether vertical or horizontal) as a precaution so children can't fall through.
in the house we were living in, the stairs were completely open on one side with no safety barrier at all. Is this legal? Can anyone point me in the right direction where to find this documented?
Thanks a lot!
The website for the Schweizer Interessenvereinigung Treppensicherheit has a section on laws and regulations:

http://www.treppensicherheit.ch/home/home/

For your banister question, you might wish to look at the diagram "Absturzsicherungen" which mentions sia-Norm 358:

http://www.treppensicherheit.ch/home/normgerecht/

Edit:
HEV-Zurich has a write-up on sia-Norm 358:

http://www.hev-zuerich.ch/der_zuerch...-200206-09.htm

This appears important:
"Die SIA-Norm 358 ist, wie jede Norm, kein Gesetz. Sie erhält jedoch dann Gesetzescharakter, wenn sie in den Bauvorschriften der örtlichen Behörde erwähnt ist oder als anerkannte Regel der Baukunst im Prozessfall beigezogen wird. Architekten und Bauherren wurden aufgrund dieser Norm schon wegen fahrlässiger Tötung verurteilt."

Last edited by MennoFloyd; 21.04.2015 at 10:31.
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Old 21.04.2015, 10:37
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

For buildings and motor vehicles, grand fathering rules apply. If it was up to standard back then, nothing has to be changed now.
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Old 21.04.2015, 11:59
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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For buildings and motor vehicles, grand fathering rules apply. If it was up to standard back then, nothing has to be changed now.
This a good comment.
Several years ago we had a situation at work where several safety hazards were identified by an inspector for the insurance company. The company was mostly in compliance with the local/ cantonal safety regulations that existed at the time the structure was built but the insurance company had a more modern standard for at least safety hazard. After some discussion, the company decided to invest the money to comply with the insurance company's higher standard to avoid higher insurance costs or possible cancellation of the insurance policy.
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Old 21.04.2015, 13:45
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

Building laws at Cantonal level may exist. Check on your canton website under building regs or ring them up.
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Old 21.04.2015, 14:41
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

This totally threw us when we made a cellar entrance.
The *law" says if the steps are in a direct line of more than 7 a bannister rail must be fitted.
We made a curving wooden stairway - 3 steps, 1 broad one, 3 more. The "building inspector" guy said we HAVE to fit a bannister rail - "There are 7 steps" So we had to. "This is a new law" said He From Gemeinde.

As for the surrounding protection (bannister?) fence thing, we were told NO horizontal bars allowed, they MUST be vertical with a distance from each other of not more than 11cm (the width of a small childs head), and not less than 92cm in height.

My son who also made a cellar entrance to his house had the same "rules" applied to him, despite it affecting the aesthetics of the design.

Stairways have to be safe and secure for toddlers and babies - even though we have no ankle biters in the family,and no garden access to the public.

YET ....... new houses in the area, and renovations to garages etc all have the "old" horizontal bars over steep dangerous drops(! ?) Even those butting direct on a public road.

We pointed this inspector guy to the local kindergarten where a new build has 18 concrete stairs to the cellar, completely unprotected access and NO handrail.
The local primary school has a Kamikaze drop to concrete "protected" by 2 horizontal pipes - next to their sportsfield and open to the public.

So, really there seems to be no telling what the actual laws are, what they are, and if they only apply to some people and not others. Or maybe it`s "who you know"? Or how many Vereins you belong to? Or some other arbitrary factor....? Very confusing.
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Old 21.04.2015, 15:21
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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The "building inspector" guy said we HAVE to fit a bannister rail - "There are 7 steps" So we had to. "This is a new law" said He From Gemeinde.
It has less to do with number of steps and more to do with the height of steps. As soon as the stairs reach over 1 meter of height from the original floor, it needs a security. Stairs should follow the golden rule: 2s+1a = 62-64 cm. Comfortable stairs have about 18cm height for each step, therefore it makes it necessary to have a guard from about 5 steps. This is not a new rule.

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As for the surrounding protection (bannister?) fence thing, we were told NO horizontal bars allowed, they MUST be vertical with a distance from each other of not more than 11cm (the width of a small childs head), and not less than 92cm in height.
Yes, not exactly and even more complicated than that. The railing is not allowed to have horizontal bars because this would make it climbable by a child. You can use vertical bars, which must be 12cm or closer, or you can use mesh, diagonal lines, or massive rails. If you have a massive rail, you can actually have cuts in it, as long as they are smaller than 12 cm. For example:



Guard rails should be at least 1 meter high in the platforms, but in the stairs it can be only 75 cm.



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YET ....... new houses in the area, and renovations to garages etc all have the "old" horizontal bars over steep dangerous drops(! ?) Even those butting direct on a public road.
I am not sure which kind of place you live in, but the BFU rules are one of the most serious and best controlled rulings in construction. All communal buildings, be it apartments or public buildings, need to abide to the rules, and an inspection from the city hall will be performed at the end of construction to check if these rules (and those regarding fire safety) have been taken care of.

HOWEVER

You are allowed to do what the hell you want in a single house. Horizontal lines, big holes of 50 cms, no railings... YOU CAN YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT. The architect or whoever you hired to do the planning, should make it clear (usually in writing) that he advised you to go according to the BFU rules. If you waver the advise and do whatever you want, the architect will no longer be liable for an accident.

To avoid crazy lawsuits which unfortunately happen to the best and friendliest of architects, we learnt to protect our asses and some of us plain refuse to design stairs not according to the rules. The client doesn't find it pretty? Tough luck. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.

Unfortunately some designers are a little less scrupulous and built whatever they are asked, and then boo hoo, accidents happen.

For the information please check the following:

SIA Norm 358 "Geländer und Brüstungen"
Suva-Merkblatt 44036 "Innerbetriebliche Verkehrswege"
BFU Fachbroschüre "Treppen"

(Sorry for only offering it in German, but I don't know their equivalent in other languages...)
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Last edited by Helm; 21.04.2015 at 15:48.
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Old 21.04.2015, 20:06
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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HOWEVER

You are allowed to do what the hell you want in a single house. Horizontal lines, big holes of 50 cms, no railings... YOU CAN YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT. The architect or whoever you hired to do the planning, should make it clear (usually in writing) that he advised you to go according to the BFU rules. If you waver the advise and do whatever you want, the architect will no longer be liable for an accident.

To avoid crazy lawsuits which unfortunately happen to the best and friendliest of architects, we learnt to protect our asses and some of us plain refuse to design stairs not according to the rules. The client doesn't find it pretty? Tough luck. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.

Unfortunately some designers are a little less scrupulous and built whatever they are asked, and then boo hoo, accidents happen.

For the information please check the following:

SIA Norm 358 "Geländer und Brüstungen"
Suva-Merkblatt 44036 "Innerbetriebliche Verkehrswege"
BFU Fachbroschüre "Treppen"

(Sorry for only offering it in German, but I don't know their equivalent in other languages...)

First, thank you everyone for your information! Very helpful!

@Helm, my colleague mentioned something very similar saying that a private household can design stairs however they want but as soon as it is turned into a rental property with tenants it has to comply with the regulations. Do you know if this is true?

thanks again!
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Old 21.04.2015, 20:49
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Re: legal requirements for stairs in a rental property

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but as soon as it is turned into a rental property with tenants it has to comply with the regulations. Do you know if this is true? !
Unfortunately, I am not inside the Swiss rental laws I'd say since you signed the contract, you acknowledged the nonexistence of the rails, therefore no change is needed. But on the other hand, accidents might happen because of it... Liability? Insurance? No idea

I guess you should try to contact the Mieterverband and ask? They are probably your best bet.
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