Presentation: Using Building Codes to Promote Healthy Housing

Speaker: Doug Farquhar, JD

 

 

Governments regulate health in housing, both directly and more common indirectly, through their housing and building codes. Certain jurisdiction, such as California or in some of our larger major cities, have comprehensive laws in place that address (among other things) health risks in residential housing. This session explores housing codes as a tool to promote healthy housing.

 

 

Considering people spend a major portion of their lives in private housing, and that young children spend almost all their time in such housing, it is surprising that so few laws cover health impacts and harmful products within the home. No major federal law addresses healthy housing, and state and local governments use several different laws none of which are directly aimed at protecting inhabitants from health risks in housing.

 

But state and local governments do regulate health in housing, both directly and more common indirectly, through their housing and building codes. Certain jurisdictions, such as California or in some of our larger major cities, have comprehensive laws in place that address (among other things) health risks in residential housing. Other jurisdictions have less comprehensive codes, but all follow (to some extent) certain fundamental codes produced by the national code organizations. This session reports on state laws and codes that address healthy housing, highlighting the most interesting or innovative in seven major categories:

Housing and Property Maintenance Codes

Health and Sanitation Codes

Landlord-Tenant Laws

Product Standards

Hazard Management Laws

Disclosure Laws, and

Random/Miscellaneous Codes

 

Learning Objectives:

 

1.       Understand how housing and building codes can influence the design, materials and structural aspects of healthy housing;

2.       Appreciate the importance of integrating aspects of health into the national code producing organizations; and

3.       Learn the trigger points to integrate health into the housing and building code dialogue.