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Common Types Of Code Enforcement Violations

Code Enforcement Violations

The role of code enforcement departments and officers is to ensure compliance with city and county ordinances and codes, protecting residents’ health, safety, and welfare. However, citizens often break the rules unintentionally or intentionally, resulting in code enforcement violations. There are many types of common code violations, from improper yard maintenance to unsafe building conditions, and in this article, let’s discuss some of these.

Property Maintenance Violations

Property maintenance violations are some of the most common types of code violations encountered by code enforcement officers. These include violations related to the upkeep and maintenance of residential and commercial buildings and the property surrounding them. Things like peeling paint, broken windows, overgrown weeds, accumulation of trash and debris, and structural damage to porches, roofs, and sidings come under this category. Code enforcement software is used by many municipalities to log complaints, schedule inspections, and track violations of property maintenance codes.

Zoning Violations

Zoning codes regulate how properties in specific geographical areas can be used and developed. Violating zoning codes can involve things like operating a business in an area zoned only for residential use, building structures that exceed height limits, or having too many people living in a single-family home. Zoning codes also regulate the appropriate setbacks for buildings from property lines and may regulate the number and types of signs that can be installed. Code enforcement officers work to ensure compliance with zoning codes through inspections, responding to complaints, and monitoring new construction.

Permit Violations

In many cities and counties, permits are required for most property improvements, including construction, fencing, signs, pools, home additions, and demolition. Failing to obtain the proper permits before beginning work is considered a code violation and permits retroactively will often incur additional fees. Permit violations can also include violations where permitted work does not comply with the details listed on approved permits. Code enforcement departments will typically conduct inspections at certain stages of permitted work to ensure compliance before further work can commence.

Occupancy Violations

Most cities have occupancy limits for residential properties based on factors like the number of bedrooms, square footage, and availability of essential facilities like toilets, showers, and cooking appliances. Exceeding the maximum occupancy can put a strain on facilities, cause parking issues, and create safety hazards. Routine inspections, complaints from neighbors, and reports from service workers like plumbers and electricians often reveal overoccupancy violations. Rental properties in particular are frequently monitored for compliance with occupancy limits under local codes.

Ordinance Violations

Many cities have additional local ordinances beyond standard zoning, property maintenance, and building codes. Local ordinances may regulate noise levels, public nuisances, parking, business licenses, signage, litter, and snow removal. Code enforcement is responsible for ensuring compliance with these city ordinances through issuing warnings, and citations, and imposing penalties for violations when necessary to gain corrections. Local ordinances can vary significantly between municipalities so officers need to be well-versed in the specific ordinances of their city.

Vectors And Infestations

Code enforcement departments work to prevent and eliminate public health hazards like insect and rodent infestations, standing water, noxious weeds, and other issues that can pose risks to the community. Officers inspect properties for signs of mosquito breeding, rodent droppings, high weeds, and other vectors of disease. They also work with property owners to eliminate harborage for pests by sealing up entry points, removing attractants like standing water or trash and improving sanitation and maintenance practices. In severe cases, code enforcement may work with local health departments to have properties declared as public health nuisances so that more intensive abatement efforts can be taken.

Construction Without Permits

Performing construction, renovation, or improvements without obtaining proper building permits is illegal and hazardous. Unpermitted work is more likely to be out of compliance with building codes and zoning laws. When code enforcement learns of unpermitted construction through field observations, complaints, or reports from concerned citizens they work to compel property owners to obtain retroactive permits, make necessary corrections or modifications to bring work into compliance, pay fees and penalties as allowed by local laws, and in some cases even cease work or undo noncompliant construction before allowing work to resume. Contractor licenses and business licenses may also be verified when unpermitted work is found to have been performed.

Enforcement Actions

When code violations are identified and compliance is not gained through voluntary cooperation, code enforcement utilizes various enforcement actions to compel corrections and gain compliance. These may include warning letters and notices of violation, citations or administrative citations that impose fines, demand for abatement, liens against the property, and in some cases even involvement of law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against repeat or egregious offenders. The goal is always to gain compliance with health, safety, and quality-of-life codes and regulations as efficiently as possible using the minimum enforcement needed