Boston officials said a porch collapse at a Mission Hill house on Friday that injured a dozen people and could result in sanctions against the owner should be a wake-up call to landlords, who face stricter rules in January requiring mandatory inspections.
Bryan Glascock, commissioner of the Inspectional Services Department, said Saturday that the collapse was the latest reminder that landlords need to be vigilant about property maintenance.
“There seems to be a story that keeps repeating: a three-decker building with a wooden porch in the back [collapsing] during a party with too many people out on the porch,” Glascock said in a phone interview.
Constant upkeep is essential, he said.
“If you own property, whether it’s a rental property or your own home property, you need to be aware that things like porches and decks don’t last forever,” he said.
A graduate student who lives in the building thinks regular inspections are a good idea.
“The apartments are great, but I would like to see them inspect the porch,” said Leanne Borden, 24, who lives in the second-floor apartment. “They just repainted it last month. There didn’t seem to be any problems.”
A recently adopted city ordinance aims to identify properties in need of repairs by requiring property owners to register rental units annually and submit to a professional property inspection at least once every five years beginning in January 2014, Glascock said.
The department will send building inspectors to 20 percent of the city’s registered rental properties each year, cycling through all properties over the course of five years. During the first year of the ordinance, Glascock said, inspectors will look at “problem properties, ones with a long history of violations” as well as randomly selected apartments.
Lisa Timberlake, a spokeswoman for the Inspectional Services Department, said Saturday that a violation “may be forthcoming” for the landlord of the Mission Hill three-family apartment building at 1538 Tremont St., across the street from Mission Church. She said she did not yet know whether the landlord had any history of rental violations.
Timberlake identified the owner as Harold Raymond. Calls placed to Raymond were not returned Saturday.
Albert Ogiste, who identified himself as Raymond’s representative, was at the property for most the day on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, there were too many people on the porch and it gave away,” said Ogiste, who said he is a building contractor. He added that he did not know when the porch was built, or how many people it could safely hold.
Mike Bosse, deputy superintendent of Boston EMS, said Friday night that seven adults injured in the collapse were taken to hospitals, mostly for neck and back injuries.
“Fortunately, nobody had any life-threatening injuries,” Bosse said. “Nobody was knocked unconscious, nobody has any broken bones.”
A structural engineer was on the scene Saturday to determine whether the remnants of the porch could be removed safely.
Split railings, broken flower pots, a gas grill, and a bar stool were strewn about the small backyard.
The collapse just before 11 p.m. startled Heather Mattie, who was seated on her living room couch when the upstairs porch came crashing down. She looked out the window to her left and saw that about a dozen people had fallen onto her second-floor porch.
“I opened the door and they were saying, ‘Call 911! Call 911!’ ” Mattie, 27, said as she stood in the apartment Saturday. “We did, and then I helped some of them to come in here.”
Three tenants who live in the third-floor apartment said the night had been a low-key gathering of friends, ranging from graduate students in their mid-twenties to their early 60s, to college students and young professionals.
George Deprete, 27, a graduate student at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, said he invited a group of friends back to the apartment, which he shares with three roommates, for drinks.
“The group was chatting on the porch when, without warning, the porch collapsed to the second floor,” Deprete said in an e-mail, which was also signed by his roommates Anna O’Hara and Manuel Pollina, who are working professionals.
In January 2011, four children sustained minor injuries when a porch on a three-story house collapsed in Dorchester as they were building a snowman on the top deck.
Later that year, in Jamaica Plain, 12 people were seriously injured when a two-story porch buckled under the weight of party-goers attending a cookout.