A catastrophic building collapse that occurred in Hackensack, New Jersey last year has prompted the New Jersey senate to pass legislation to locate potential problems to structures before other building cave-ins occur. The bill would require architects or engineers to evaluate the safety of existing structures. If defects are found, an evacuation of the building may occur.

Building owners often abandon or fail to take care of their property and may no longer assume responsibility for the property's condition. Abandoned or neglected property can turn out to be locations where inspectors will find gas leaks, electrical problems that may lead to fires, and also roofs, walls and ceilings that are deteriorating and on the brink of collapse. It's not surprising that such buildings can become the center of a tragedy.

The problem is that structural problems reported on to companies or individuals managing the building are simply ignored. New Jersey State Senator Bob Gordon, who sponsored this bill, feels the bill is necessary to prevent building owners from not following through on recommendations. "It's mind-boggling," he said, "that even after structural issues were identified in numerous engineering reports forwarded to the management company, the problems were left unaddressed." This bill is meant to provide additional oversight.

It's not difficult to imagine the tragedy that can occur if structural recommendations are ignored and a building does collapse. A large number of individuals could be injured or killed if such an incident occurs. Failures to act by building owners often ends in litigation because, only with the prospect of being sued, will such individuals be motivated to act. Such law suits in turn may prevent future tragedies.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Senate approves legislation to aide against building collapses," by Mark J. Bonamo, Oct. 21, 2011