Norristown is conveniently located in Montgomery County, PA, along three major interstates: I-76, I-276, and I-476. As a whole, Montgomery County has a very stable housing market and is often quite sought after for buyers and renters alike for features such as the excellent school systems. Because of the urban feel of the township, Norristown is essentially an extension of Philadelphia, and the low purchase prices for home sales make it an attractive area for investors to choose from.
PA Inspection Laws
With any investment property, there are always risks encountered, many of them having to do with repairs and maintenance of the property. Most townships require property owners to include safety features and upgrades meant to protect both you and your tenants. For example, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors must be present on each floor, as well as in each bedroom of a unit. Proper handrails, GFCI outlets within four feet of a water source, and maintaining steps and stairs in a safe condition are all standard requirements. For any buyer, investment property management requires plenty of knowledge of PA regulations as well as local stipulations.
While the above list of codes probably seems reasonable, Norristown goes much further. Any investors considering an investment property in this township should be prepared for the additional regulations.
Extremely Strict Inspection Lists
If investors think the Philadelphia property maintenance code is challenging to comply with, Norristown may prove to be even more demanding. Here is a quick list of some of the township’s requirements that must be met during a PA home inspection:
- Street Numbers. The street address must be visible from the front and back of the house.
- Paint. No chipping or peeling paint may be visible regardless of the age of the home.
- Electrical. All rooms must have three double outlets, and any outlets near any water source must be GFCI. Plus, the electric panel must be properly labeled.
- Bedrooms. No bedroom may have a keyed lock.
- Safety Features. All steps must be completely even; all windows must open and stay open.
- Fire Prevention. Smoke detectors must be located in every bedroom, and outside of each bedroom. A minimum of one smoke detector and one carbon monoxide detector must be present on each level of the home. Every home must be equipped with a fire extinguisher that meets local regulations. A smoke detector that is beeping to warn of a failing battery will cause an inspection failure.
- Water. Basements cannot have any signs of water entry. Downspouts must be secured and pitched away from the building and not towards any neighboring properties.
Property Repair Certifications & Inspections
In addition to the detailed requirements for each rental unit of a building, there are several certifications and conditions to be aware of before purchasing an investment property in Norristown, PA. Here are several to keep in mind.
- Furnace Certification. Every furnace must be inspected and certified every year. The inspection must be completed by a third-party inspector who has been approved by Norristown, and any recommendations provided by the inspector must be heeded.
- Chimney Certification. All chimneys in a building must be in working order, as verified by an inspection and certification every year. No chimney may have any missing mortar, crumbling bricks, or any cable wires going through them. Inspectors must be approved by Norristown, and any upgrades or recommendations must be completed.
- Fire Escape Certification. Every fire escape attached to a multi-family home must be inspected and certified every five years by an inspector who has been approved by Norristown and typically costs about $1000. If the inspector recommends upgrades or repairs, these must be completed.
- Roof Inspection. If an inspector feels that the roof needs to be examined, an inspection can be ordered. The property owner must complete any repairs or replacements deemed necessary by the inspector.
- Water Entry. If an inspector finds any signs of moisture or water entry in the basement, they can require the property owner to waterproof the entire basement. This can be a costly proposition for any landlord.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Because of the attractive amenities and prices, investors can find great success in Norristown—provided they manage to stay in compliance with the long list of requirements, codes, and inspections. In most cases, these regulations are meant to protect tenants from injury and property damage, but they can also help property owners stay on top of the property repair and avoid any surprise expenses, especially after bringing all items up to compliance.
For many property investors, all the factors are unfavorable for a profitable investmentand the inspection and repair checklists are too cumbersome to manage. Some investors may also have undue stress and worry even if they are working hard to stay in compliance, just because there is so much to keep track of. For these reasons, many investors choose to work with property management companies that are experienced with the specific requirements of operating a rental property in Norristown, PA.
At Bay Property Management Group, we are locally owned and operated. Our team was born and bred in the area, and our experience in Philadelphia and the surrounding townships and counties is unmatched. If Norristown sounds like the right formula for a profitable investment, but you’re intimidated by the regulations, we’ll make it easy for you to stay in compliance and enjoy a solid return on your investment.