In early June, the Alabama legislature wrapped up its 2023 Regular Session which included the passage of several bills that affect the housing and development industry. Below is a summary of each bill, related to the housing industry, that has been signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey:
Earlier this year, a representative with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that gas stoves were a significant source of indoor pollution linked to childhood asthma, suggesting that the agency could be working to ban them in new homes. As a prelude to these comments, several West Coast cities became the first to pass a code banning natural gas hookups in new buildings. A few months ago, New York became the first state to pass such a law while other state legislatures have passed “preemption laws” that prohibit the banning of natural gas appliances.
Alabama’s newest preemptive law, per the Homebuilders Association of Alabama, “prohibits the adoption or enforcement of specific building codes requiring the installation of certain latent, non-operable features in a residential structure.” In other words, municipalities within the Yellowhammer State cannot require the installation of a 220 electrical circuit behind gas appliances in case future events, whether mandated by the federal government or simply a matter of preference, prove otherwise. In a similar fashion, the new law prohibits cities from enforcing additional framing to support solar panels to comply with future “what if” energy regulations.
Several years ago, the US Postal Service made a subtle shift regarding their method of mail delivery that has frustrated developers and homeowners alike: a requirement to install cluster mailboxes, like those found in apartment communities, within single family neighborhoods. Prior to this change, it was a foregone conclusion that building a home and having a mailbox in front of it went hand-in-hand. That’s no longer the case as local postmaster’s have enforced various mail delivery methods that differ not only around the state but can differ from one phase to the next within the same neighborhood.
To establish consistency for developers and homeowners, the State of Alabama now prohibits the installation of centralized “cluster” boxes in new home communities with single family, duplex, or townhome units. Apartment complexes, condominiums, and commercial projects are exempted from the law. Likewise, the US Postal Service can install cluster boxes at their expense in any Alabama neighborhood.
The Healthier Homes Construction Practices Act was passed to improve indoor air quality in homes under construction. Mold build-up and warping and disfigurement of wood are some examples cited by the legislature that can impair the long-term durability of the home and endanger the health of the consumer due to temperature and humidity going unregulated within the structure. Alabama municipalities must adopt procedures that allow for the activation, on a temporary basis, of electricity or gas in any dwelling to regulate temperature and humidity.