Code Enforcement Action – What do I do?

Have you received a citation from the Code Enforcement Board?

It can be a bit unsettling getting such a notice, by certified mail, that your property has been spotted for Code Enforcement Action.  Such citations can be for a myriad of things, including:

  • Building without a permit
  • Unkempt yard
  • Junk storage
  • Improper Parking
  • Intrusive business from a residence (like a plumbing company requiring material storage and employee hours)
  • Home or building existing below safe standards or Codes. These are usually  condemnable for one reason or another.
  • Adult sales too close, legally, to certain establishments
  • The lists goes on and on.

I chaired the Code Enforcement Board in  Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida, for about 7 years. It was a citizen volunteer board. I

I began to see repeated situations during those years and I learned much.

The key things that I learned that are important for one so cited, actions he or she can take that will really reduce the hassle and heartache that such a citation bring. These are:

Communicate – I learned that the single most important thing one can do, who has been cited, is to communicate. To earnestly find out what Code is in violation and what the remedies are. Most cases that we saw were definite violations of rather reasonable rules.

Get Names – Get the exact name and the post of anyone with whom you deal. Do not just accept that they are from the Code Enforcement department, or just accept what a voice says over the phone. Get names. Find out, and write down, who said what – and do it accurately.

Find who is in charge of your case, and speak mainly to him or her. This will prevent you from being transferred from one uncaring person to another as you pursue information or attempt to tell them what you are doing. Always deal with that person.

Keep that person informed. Both by phone, and in writing, tell that person what you are doing to remedy the situation. You can usually resolve the entire situation without ever going to see the Board itself.  This is by far the most preferable outcome for everyone involved.

Keep your promises. This will put trust there and if you genuinely run into a problem you’ll find much more cooperation when it is sensed that you are honest and keep your word.

You’ll usually find that the person in charge of your case will make suggestions and maybe even help you with any difficulties. Keep notes and work to remedy the situation. It’ll usually come out fine.

And if you go before the Board, bring your information. Usually the agent with whom you have been working, if you’ve kept in the above points,  will practically argue your case for you to get extensions or whatever you need to remedy the situation. The Board rarely wants to impose fines, they what to see the situation resolved.

One more point. if you disagree with the Code, remember that this is not the venue to argue that. Those involved in Code Enforcement are there to gain compliance to the Codes as they exist. The correct avenue for getting the Code changed is the governing board. This may be a Board of Commissioners for your County or some City Board. If you have a good argument you could very well get a much needed change to something that needs to be changed. It is your right, some might even see it as their duty to change it.

I wish you the best of luck in the situation.

If you need any specific advice on a situation you have, feel free to contact me through our contact page on this website – or call me at Florida Tectonics, Inc..