How To Condemn A House – Here’s Everything That You Need To Know.

Last Updated on August 6, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

To condemn a house, follow these steps:

  • Local authorities inspect the property
  • Identify safety hazards or code violations
  • Issue a condemnation notice
  • Give the owner a chance to make repairs
  • If unresolved, order evacuation
  • Demolition may occur if the issues persist

How To Condemn A House?

Condemning a house involves declaring it uninhabitable for various reasons such as safety hazards, building code violations, or severe structural damage. This article will guide you through the process of condemning a house in a professional and proper manner. Remember, thorough evaluation and following the correct steps are crucial to ensure the safety of both residents and potential buyers.

  1. Assess the condition:
    Before initiating the condemnation process, conduct a thorough inspection of the house. Look for signs of major structural damage, mold, infestation, and any other hazards that render the property unsafe or uninhabitable. Document each issue carefully, using both written descriptions and photographs as evidence.
  2. Establish legal authority:
    To condemn a house, you must have the legal authority to do so. Research the local legislation and building codes for the specific requirements and regulations governing the condemnation procedure in your area. Understand the legalities, responsibilities, and rights associated with the process to proceed effectively.
  3. Notify the owner:
    In order to begin the condemnation process, you must notify the property owner of the issues discovered during the inspection. Provide them with a detailed report outlining the problems and explaining why the house should be condemned. Offer a reasonable deadline for them to address and rectify the issues, if possible, before further action is taken.
  4. Consult experts:
    To support the condemnation decision, consult with experts such as engineers, building inspectors, or health officials. Their professional opinions can provide essential evidence for justifying the condemnation. Ensure that you adhere to the guidelines and standards set by these experts to maintain credibility and avoid legal complications.
  5. Obtain legal backing:
    To legally condemn a house, you may need to seek an official condemnation order. Consult with a lawyer or your local authorities to understand the legal procedures and requirements for obtaining such an order. This step generally involves filing a petition or applying for a condemnation permit, depending on the jurisdiction.
  6. Issue condemnation notice:
    Once you have the necessary legal documentation, issue a formal condemnation notice to the property owner. This written notice should clearly state the reasons for condemnation, any applicable regulations, and the consequences for non-compliance. Make sure to provide a reasonable timeframe for the owner to respond or appeal the decision.
  7. Monitor compliance and follow-up:
    Regularly monitor the property and ensure the owner complies with the order. If they fail to act within the specified timeframe or make insufficient repairs, take appropriate enforcement action as per local regulations. Ensure that all subsequent actions are well-documented, including communication, inspections, and any measures taken to secure the property.

What Does It Mean To Condemn A House?

If a government entity determines that a house is no longer safe to live in, it is declared condemned. This process usually results from continued violations of the housing code, and no one can occupy it until the owner rectifies the issues.

A finding by the Board of Health could lead to its ordering the condemnation of the house. If the Board of Health condemns your house, you can wait until a court judge orders you to leave. You may decide to fight this action by appearing in court for a hearing.

When the health board intends to condemn a house or building, it should serve all occupants with a written notice. This notice informs the tenants of the board’s intention to hold a court hearing to decide whether part or all of the premises must be condemned. The notice also includes a copy of the inspection report and the date for the scheduled hearing.

Reasons For House Condemnation

A house may be condemned for repeated violations of housing codes. If the housing inspector deems the building unfit for human occupancy, they may recommend a condemnation. The following reasons may suffice for this action:

  • A house that has been abandoned for some time and which is deemed to pose safety risks
  • A house under renovation with serious violations
  • Permits are not displayed correctly or are missing. Unsafe conditions of a building or work that is not up to standard
  • Lack of proper sanitary conditions such as un-working plumbing leads to accumulation and infestations.
  • Significant structural damage or the presence of black mold
  • Plans to have public improvements near your home (eminent domain) such as street expansion. When this is the case, the owner is compensated by the government at the current market value

Can A Condemned House Be Fixed?

Yes. You can negotiate a repair agreement or rehabilitation with the housing authority. You will then repair your house and comply with the housing code. This process will involve a full inspection of the entire house, after which the condemned status can be reversed.

The Following Are The Code Requirements To Meet:

  • Provision of hot water
  • Proper ventilation in the house
  • Safe electrical outlets and light fixtures
  • Functional plumbing system
  • The dwelling should be clean, free of pests, and in proper structural condition

What Happens To A Condemned House?

A house is only condemned after every effort to improve it has failed. An exception is an eminent domain when there are plans to improve the infrastructure in the area. The house tenants and owners are given written notice to vacate when the home is condemned.

A sign is placed on the building stating that it is not safe and cannot be occupied. The property may, in some cases, be winterized. Winterizing helps to prevent damage as a result of frozen water pipes. Other utilities that are not adequately maintained may also cause damage. The authorities may decide to shut off electric power, and disconnect the gas. Drain pipes, plumbing fittings, and water pipes could also be turned off.

If you are the owner of the building, you may be ordered to demolish or repair it. It is also necessary to respond to any complaints quickly. You will need to seek legal advice on what is best to do.

How Do You Get A City To Condemn Your House?

A person may call the building department in your city and report that your house is in despair. The city’s building department sends an inspector to check your property. If the inspector notes something that does not seem to comply with the housing code, it may be declared unsafe for human occupancy.

What To Do When Your House Is Condemned

If you are the owner of a building facing possible condemnation due to code violations or unsafe structure, here’s what to do:

Get A Competent Lawyer

Get a good lawyer who is conversant with the local code provisions. Your lawyer also needs to be familiar with ordinances and regulations that your property is not compliant with.

Get Familiar With Relevant Regulations.

If you cannot hire a lawyer, get familiar with applicable code regulations, provisions, and ordinances that government officials rely on to declare your building non-compliant. Make sure that government officials are interpreting these regulations accurately. Ensure that the provisions are applied correctly to your property.

Older buildings may be exempted from complying with current requirements and you will want to know if your property is one of them. You can visit your local municipal department to learn about the code provisions or find them online. Make sure that you are familiar with the code provisions you are deemed to be violating.

Proper Procedure

The government ought to follow proper procedures when enforcing code provisions. As a homeowner, you need to receive proper notice of violation, get a chance to rectify the violations within a reasonable period and be allowed to appeal against the decision.

Ensure that you understand the process and the steps the government should follow in condemning your property.

Do Not Ignore The Citations And Notices

Do not ignore the notices and citations that you receive from the government about a non-compliant building. Doing this may lead to additional assessments and fines. Avoid the monetary penalties as they can create more financial burdens for you. Unpaid assessments and fines may also lead to a lien being placed on your building and your ability to transfer or sell the property may be affected.

Repair And Fix Your Property

Repair and fix your property to comply with code provisions. Make sure that you document your efforts to show that you are doing everything possible to comply. Ensure that you have receipts for work done, photos showing the building’s condition before and after a repair, and so on.

You will use this evidence to get a chance for a hearing and use it for your defense.