North Carolina has implemented House Bill 619, which amends the regulations for residential elevators set forth in Article 9 of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. The law applies to residential elevators in private residences, cottages, and other similar accommodations, many of which are used as short-term rentals and maintained by landlords. The enhanced measures are designed to prevent smaller children from becoming trapped between the elevator car and hoistway door. Before the law was enacted, residential elevators in short-term rentals were exempt from State Department of Labor regulations.

Under the new legislation, elevators on these properties may not have a gap greater than four inches between the hoistway face of the landing door and the car door. Additionally, elevator doors or gates must be designed and installed to withstand an applied force of 75 pounds without displacing the door or gate from its guides or tracks, or otherwise bending the doors and gates more than ¾ of an inch.

If the elevator does not conform to these mandates, the property’s landlord must stop operating the elevator until the noncompliance is resolved. Acceptable remedial efforts include installing a nonremovable hoistway door space guard, a full-height door baffle, or a door baffle that is at least 31.75 inches tall, which must be installed to withstand a force of 75 pounds. The cost of installing the additional safety measures is considered minimal, with an estimated expense of approximately $150 per floor. Once the elevator is brought into compliance, the landlord is obligated to send the State’s Commissioner of Insurance either a statement from a professional elevator installer certifying that the installation was performed or a receipt for the safety item that was installed. The landlord must also submit a signed statement certifying the date of installation along with photographs of the approved safety measures implemented.

Finally, the amended statute impacts a landlord’s obligations to provide “fit premises” pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42A-31, which is part of the Vacation Rental Act, since compliance with the enhanced elevator safety procedures is now a prerequisite for vacation rentals. While annual inspections are still not required under the bill, any person who permits a noncompliant elevator to continue operating risks being found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Accordingly, property managers or landlords for residences covered by the statute should ensure any elevators on such properties comply with these new safety regulations.