What Happens When You Receive a Violation Letter?

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When property maintenance or nuisance code violations are reported and observed at a residence, a warning letter is sent to the property owner of record, detailing the violations. When that letter is sent, the clock starts ticking for the violations to be corrected, even if the address of record turns out to be wrong! If the dwelling is a rental, the residents are also notified of violations they are responsible for. Any registered agents of the owner are also notified.

If you have specific questions about a case, contact the inspector listed at the bottom of your violation letter; if you have misplaced the letter, their information is available on the City’s website, as well as a summary of recent actions taken in relation to that case. If you are still unsure who the inspector is, contact the 3-1-1 Action Center who can get you their contact information.

  1. Buildings that are open to entry (broken or missing windows or doors) must be corrected immediately; if the owner or their agent can be contacted, they will have a chance to correct the problem. But if the inspector has been unable to contact anyone after due diligence, the City will secure the building within 24 hours, at the owner’s expense.

  2. Nuisance violations (those enumerated in Chapter 48 of the Code of Ordinances) must be corrected within ten days of the Order to Remove Nuisances letter being sent. If the owner does not live in the property, the residents will also be notified with a duplicate letter. Common nuisance violations include:
    • Weeds or grass over 10 inches in height;
    • Trash or debris stored improperly;
    • Vehicles parked on grass or other unsuitable surfaces;
    • Exterior storage of materials not suited to the outdoors, such as interior furniture;
    • Landlord ‘set outs’ of evicted tenant belongings on the curb;

    If the inspector finds the same violations still present after ten days, a summons for Housing Court may be issued, or in certain circumstances an Administrative Citation will be issued to the property owner (and resident, if applicable). If weed or trash violations exist upon reinspection, the City may utilize a contractor to abate the problems and bill the property owner for the costs of such abatement.

  3. Property maintenance violations (those enumerated in Chapter 56 of the Code of Ordinances) should be corrected within thirty days of the Notice and Order letter being sent. Property maintenance violations are generally the responsibility of the owner (not the renter), although the owner should inform the inspector if a property management company or agent is tasked with such maintenance. Common property maintenance violations include:
    • Peeling paint or unprotected exterior surfaces;
    • Loose or non-functional guttering and downspouts;
    • Cracked or loose stonework or brickwork;
    • Loose or missing shingles or roofing;

    If the inspector finds the same violations still present after thirty days, a summons for Housing Court may be issued, or in certain circumstances an Administrative Citation will be issued to the property owner. If progress is being made but is not completed, the inspector may grant a request for an extension to the property owner, and reinspect in thirty more days.

  4. In extreme circumstances, property maintenance violations may be so severe that the building is considered dangerous and uninhabitable (as explained in Section 56-532 of the Code of Ordinances); if this happens, an Order to Repair or Demolish will be sent to the property owner, and any residents will be ordered to leave the property for their own safety. Dangerous Buildings usually have more than one of the following violations:
    • Cracked or shifted foundations;
    • Holes in the roof or walls, allowing the entry of weather and the elements;
    • Leaning, buckled, or otherwise unsound structural walls;

    In general Dangerous Buildings cases are handled similarly to other property maintenance cases, but the consequences of inaction on the part of the owner can include the City hiring a contractor to demolish part or all of the structure and bill the property owner for the cost of the demolition. Administrative Citations or Municipal Court Summons can also be issued to the property owner if they are not proceeding with repairs or demolition in a timely manner, before the City takes final action to demolish. Inspectors can grant extensions to property owners who are making progress on renovations or demolition, but consistent and substantial progress is essential to avoid hefty fines.