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Just How Important is Property Maintenance Code Enforcement?

jar546

Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
8,641
Location
Palm Beach County Florida
I believe that most of us live in areas that have zoning and property maintenance laws. Maybe some of you in unincorporated areas such as rural areas of the country have very lax to non-existent laws. Regardless, of whether or not you have the laws in place, whether or not they are actually enforced is the real difference.

I am a believer that strong, yet fair and equal enforcement of property maintenance codes (along with zoning laws) is one of the key ingredients to keeping property values up, crime down and instilling a sense of pride in a community which makes it more likely to attract small businesses and maintain a better quality of life.

It is unfortunate that some people attempt to live beyond their means and I have witnessed in the past new homeowners that barely afforded to purchase property. OK, don't get me wrong, I am not against home-ownership for people but affordable home ownership with the ability to maintain your property. I think many of us have stories of how we lost a neighbor that kept a meticulous property and it was sold to someone who turned it into an eyesore. When properties are not maintained, it affects the value of the nearby properties and if widespread, can affect the prices of entire communities. The value of properties, however is just one part of the puzzle.

A clean, well maintained neighborhood brings pride and encourages interaction between neighbors, which in turn, adds a small element of peer pressure. No one likes to stand out in a negative way. Now, if you are the kind that likes to live far away from society where there are little to no rules, this really does not apply to you. I don't want to live next to someone who always has a vehicle up on jacks in the driveway and an RV and boat parked alongside the house. That is my choice. I like clean, well kept properties. Your mileage may vary.

So the question I pose to each and everyone of you is this. How do you think property maintenance affects the look and feel of a community?
 

Msradell

Sawhorse
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
1,002
Location
Louisville Kentucky
Property maintenance codes definitely affect the look and feel of a community. The problem comes in when you have a fairly large city with a huge variety of different between homes in different parts of the city. Homes that cost 1/2 million dollars or more in one portion of the city expect much different level of upkeep and maintenance and homes to in the poor areas of the city where home values may be <$50,000. It's a hard thing to balance in some situations.

At least here in Louisville the codes are very loose and don't demand an awful lot for homeowners to do as far as upkeep goes. Because of that many of the more well-off areas of the city have HOAs that have much stricter requirements. Some people don't agree with this but others, like myself, accept them as a way to keep our neighborhoods neat and well-maintained. As long as they are not overly strict and enforced fairly they are not a bad option.
 

e hilton

Bronze Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
2,003
Location
Virginia
Ask the citizens of palm harbor fla how they like overbearing codes and over zealous city officials. From usa today 7/19/19 ...
“A Florida woman was fined $100,000 for a dirty pool and overgrown grass. When do fines become excessive?“
 

jar546

Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
8,641
Location
Palm Beach County Florida
Ask the citizens of palm harbor fla how they like overbearing codes and over zealous city officials. From usa today 7/19/19 ...
“A Florida woman was fined $100,000 for a dirty pool and overgrown grass. When do fines become excessive?“

I read the article and it is completely and totally blown out of proportion. These people are being fined $100 per day for every day the problem exists on properties that violate the property maintenance code. If you allow the problem to exist for almost 1,000 days which is almost 3 years then yeah, the fines will accumulate. The municipalities have to follow the ordinance. Normally you get fined and fix the problem in the next day or 2 so you are out a couple of hundred bucks and we all know there are warnings before you get fined and people are given a timeframe to get deficiencies corrected.

Concerning the guy who fixed his roof without a permit, he created his own problem. A tree fell on his house and he decided to go to Home Depot and buy some lumber to try to fix it himself. This is an area that is in a hurricane zone with very specific requirements and contractor licensing laws for a reason. He was charged $200 for doing work without a permit and then took 6 months to find a contractor. That is completely his fault for breaking the law to begin with then, I assume, took his time creating more drama than needed rather than calling up a licensed contractor to fix the problem. He could have easily hired a contractor who could have submitted a permit application within days, therefore reducing his fines. This news article only tells one side of the story and is not written with an objectionable agenda.

Not to mention, as most of you know, if taken to a local court/magistrate, these fines are significantly reduced anyway. I want to know in the end what these people actually paid.
 

e hilton

Bronze Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
2,003
Location
Virginia
Of course it has been sensationalized ... they have to sell newspapers after all. But there are snippets of truth in there, like this comment. A homeowner deeded the house back to the lender in lieu if foreclosure and moved out of state. Grass didnt get cut for months at a time. City levied a huge fine and would not back down ...

“The city argued that Allen should pay, even as it acknowledged that her mortgage lender had taken control of the house. Dunedin’s attorneys cited a state statute saying the lien the city placed on the house where the violation occurred applies to other personal property Allen owned. “

This is a decent add to the city budget, almost like a speed trap ...

“Dunedin expects to make a little more than $1 million this year from fines and forfeitures. That’s about five times as much as the city made a decade ago.”
 

fatboy

Administrator
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
6,439
Location
Northern CO
I am one of those rednecks that don't like rules, but I chose to live 30 miles from the larger city in my area, and I am 600 yards off the closest road.

That being said, yes, in the City, where you CHOSE to live, there has to be rules, and enforcement. A lot of the IPMC requirements are amended out in my jurisdiction, because they were already in place in our Code Enforcement Division. We roughly describe it as the CE Division is "walls out", and Building Inspection is "walls in" for enforcement of the IPMC. I struggle with enforcement of utility connections, but when circumstances affect the neighborhood, I will step up.
 

Keystone

Sawhorse
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
1,079
Location
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Property Maintenance, is it really the “JOB” of the municipality or for those folks that want to have a particular value and community lifestyle the private industry may handle it through HOA’s,
 

tmurray

Registered User
Joined
Jun 10, 2011
Messages
2,211
Location
NB, Canada
The issue I see is the fine structure. Some cities appear to be using it more for a revenue stream than to set a minimum standard for the community.

I have done enforcement of our municipal by-laws for almost 10 years now. I have never issued a fine and we have a relatively good compliance rate. Mostly, I just have conversations with people. Most people are either unaware of the requirements or are doing something that causes a temporary violation.

Msradell is absolutely correct, you cannot paint the entire community with a single brush. When we have a violation reported, we drive the neighborhood to see what the state is of all of the properties there before developing an enforcement strategy.

We do have issues with people moving to our community from larger cities and thinking they are in the country and can sit a couple cars on blocks in their front lawn of a 1/4 acre property. They often tell me they thought they could do whatever they wanted in the country. I love reminding them they moved to the fifth largest community in our province, not the country.
 

ADAguy

Sawhorse
Joined
Sep 11, 2013
Messages
6,070
Location
California
Health and safety are at issue and the reason why the regs. exist, without them fire and illness may originate and spread.
 

No Soup for you

Registered User
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
83
Location
New York
Yes, you need to have property maintenance codes.

I personally dislike enforcing them, because I am a live and let live kind of person, but I understand the issues of neighbors letting their propertys go and it becomes an eyesore for the neighbors and harbors rodents etc...

Grass too tall? A couple of cars unlicensed? Right or wrong, I look the other way until someone complains and I have to take some kind of action.

I always try the knock on the door approach rather than sending out violations. But, when you get the ones that dont respond, its violation/summons' time, but I hate doing that.
 

JCraver

Sawhorse
Joined
Feb 20, 2014
Messages
831
Location
Southern IL
Yes, you need to have property maintenance codes.

I personally dislike enforcing them, because I am a live and let live kind of person, but I understand the issues of neighbors letting their propertys go and it becomes an eyesore for the neighbors and harbors rodents etc...

Grass too tall? A couple of cars unlicensed? Right or wrong, I look the other way until someone complains and I have to take some kind of action.

I always try the knock on the door approach rather than sending out violations. But, when you get the ones that dont respond, its violation/summons' time, but I hate doing that.


Exactly that. Only difference is that you only hear from me via letter that names the violation and gives you some time to fix it, because other people in my office are particular about having everything documented.

I never go looking - everything PM-related is complaint-based.
 
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