Cities and counties create local code ordinances to ensure that every home owner and tenant feels safe and comfortable in their house.
While municipalities across the United States vary in their regulations and the enforcement there of, there are some common violations found everywhere.
Code violations aren't just an issue for current home owners to worry about, but those looking to buy, especially in Florida, need to also be aware of how violations and fines from a previous owner could be passed to them.
Here are some of the most common code violations we found while conducting thousands and thousands of lien searches on properties:
1. High Weeds
A well manicured lawn is one of the first impressions people notice in a neighborhood. Most municipalities require owners to maintain grass length under 10 inches on a developed property and 12 inches on an undeveloped property. Owners are also responsible for maintaining the grass on their portion of the city’s right-of-way or easement.
2. Trash/Junk/General Maintenance of the property
Property Maintenance must comply with each city or county’s Code of Ordinances. This is to ensure the general safety, health, and property values of the area, so it’s important that all structures are in good condition and yards are maintained.
A front yard is not meant to be treated like a junk yard. It’s not always a case of willful neglect on the property owners’ part. When remodeling a home, owners must be aware that if the contractor leaves building material in an unkempt manner for too long or if their crew uses your lawn as a receptacle, you may be held liable by the municipality.
3. Inoperable Vehicles
Vehicles can not be abandoned on public or private property unless it is part of a business or completely enclosed in a building. Junk cars could pose a potential health risk due to leaking fluids and chemicals in addition to creating an eye sore for neighbors.
Some common regulations for cars are:
- The vehicle must have current license and tags
- The vehicle must be operational and roadworthy
- The vehicle must be parked on an improved surface like asphalt, concrete or masonry.
Parking on grass, dirt, or gravel could result in a fine.
Many cities impose a noise ordinance on property owners. Barking dogs, squawking birds or other loud animals could all result in a citation. In many municipalities, such as Miami-Dade county, this code ordinance is enforced by the police under Ordinane 21-28 (c). A loud pet will cost the property owner a $100 fine even if the pet belongs to a tenant. Failure to pay the fine may result in a lien on the home. It is ultimately the responsibility of the home owner to ensure their tenants abide by this ordinance.
5. Obstruction in the sidewalk, road, or alley way
Public streets and sidewalks must be accessible and clear at all times. Trash cans, recycling bins, signs, vehicles, plants, and any other kind of materials can not be in the right of way. It is the responsibility of the home owner to clean up any spills that occur before trash pick up. If any public traffic control or road signs abut your property, you must ensure that no plants or structures obstruct their view.
Other common violations to be aware of in Florida include displaying signs and holding garage sales wihtout proper permits as well as unkempt pools. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all possible code violations within a city or county. Some may not apply to your local municipality’s rules and regulations. Be sure to check with your city or county to make sure you know how to be a good neighbor. If you are buying a home in Florida where you are unfamiliar with the regulations, be sure to conduct an unrecorded lien search. This will provide vital information regarding any current violations or liens that you may be held responsible for paying after closing even if you obtained a traditional title search on the property.