Is this against code - winder stairs (or is it a landing)

Is this against code? House was built in 1950 before code for railings in RI. Would the grandfather clause protect me from liability / code violation? Are these landings or winders? Im in RI thanks!

Should have a continuous handrail. Landings must have specific dimensions. The minimum dimension is 36 inches in the direction of travel; landing must be the same width as the stairs. Your picture shows winder treads not landings. As for enforcement, who’s to say. Codes are modified, edited for each jurisdiction and are not retroactive. Sale of a property doesn’t create a new code application.


Let’s turn this around to get to the bottom line of the whole story…

Why are you asking these questions now?
Did you not tour the home before placing an offer to purchase the home?
Did you not see this concern before purchasing the home?
What changed, that you thought this looked ‘OK’ before, and now it doesn’t?
What do you expect the “town” to do about it?
Do you know for fact that anything was changed to the staircase at the time of the “Reno”?
Paint ands stain doesn’t require a “Code” inspection.

So… what’s the rest of the story you aren’t telling us?

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Short answer…Maybe. Three risers to first winder tread, but four risers are the trigger for needing a handrail. There is short section of open to the room riser that could be considered a fourth riser. So, I would think that this is open to interpretation by your city inspector.

Considering this is not a ‘new build’, he isn’t going to say a whole lot about it.

no comment regarding code. here are some recent building standards, though.

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No story.
House was built 1950. You are correct the Reno was just just paint and stand which doesn’t require an inspection, (I was didn’t know if the town inspects houses before new occupancy).

I guess my Question was, is this stair case considered safe / meet todays standards? Seems like it’s open for interpretation.

Next Question: House was built in 1950 (with no interior modeling besides paint and stain. If I rent this out am. I protected from any liability if some one gets sue happy because of the grandfather clause?

No interpretation necessary: not built to, or in compliance with, today’s standards.


We’re not code inspectors, at least I’m not, but I can tell you if I inspected that house today I’d be writing it up as a safety defect due to the fact that the handrail is not continous to the bottom the stairs.

Obviously, the anwser is no.


You can be involved in a lawsuit for many reasons, some legitimate reasons, some not so much. If someone is “sue happy” then anything goes.

If you want true liability protection, don’t be a landlord.


no but it’s safer than this deathtrap at my 80’s condo rental. i can sue my landlord, huh? :thinking:

You should just sue in anticipation of falling so that you will have the money available when you do fall down those stairs.


And this is why I ask the questions I do.

If you rent out the property, you need to remember one key point that MOST people get wrong!
(Assuming) that you are keeping it a SFH or less than 5 units, MOST people say it does NOT qualify as a Commercial property, and they are technically correct, BUT… in many jurisdictions, it is still considered an INCOME PROPERTY, and as such opens you up to a lot of conditions that YOU are responsible for, the safety of the property being a major one. That oftens entails upgrading certain features of the property as dictated by the AHJ. That being said, you need to have some investigative discussions with certain local AHJ’s/Dept’s to determine what you are in for if you proceed with your plans.

Remember, (especially as a landlord), anybody can sue for any reasoin at any time! A kid playing on the front lawn trips and breaks a leg. The parent can sue you for not maintaining the landscaping and maintenance of the lawn (cut-the-grass) before it gets too long and becomes a trip hazard!

So much for…

There is always a story!

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Depends… did you ‘measure’ the treads per building standards to determine if there is an actual hazard, including researching the Codes for the 1980’s, because you know the opposing Attorney will have that information to counter you with in court!!

Note: These measurements also lend to the ‘preferred’ location of the handrail to being above the (inside curve) or thin side of the tread… which forces a person to step away from the (hazardous) side of the tread!

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I do rental (code) inspections for rental property licensing in Baltimore City and County. They specifically require you to update certain safety items to current code (2015 in Balto.). This includes handrails on stairs (which are not up to code in your picture). Specifically you need a continuous handrail including the winder steps; it needs to cover both the top and bottom steps and the ends need to be turned into the wall (to prevent catching on clothing).

You should also have smoke and CO alarms on all levels of the home. Hardwired and interconnected may be required but is always preferred.

You need to check with your local city or county jurisdiction to see if a rental license is required and if an inspection is needed to obtain a license.

There may be other requirements in your jurisdiction not listed above. Those are simply the most common fails in my area.


IMO, these are winders, not landings. Landings are square or rectangular. I would certainly recommend improving the handrail situation for safety reasons. And, the handrail/guard should be on the narrow corner of the step to encourage the person to walk on the wider side of the winder.



There’s no such thing. I would quit using that term (grandfathered).


Here is the grandfather clause…


You don’t know your contracts! That is the sanity clause . . . .


If you rent this out, just go ahead and put up a proper guard and handrail. It’s the right thing to do for your tenant.