Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by
A government may sometimes deem a house unfit for occupancy and thus condemn it. A governing body such as a municipality will do this by court order or proclamation. The housing inspector may declare that part or all of the premises you live in is unfit and cannot be repaired while you are inside. A health’s board may also issue a finding that the house is not safe for humans to occupy.
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’s 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 this action:
1. A house that has been abandoned for some time and which is deemed to pose safety risks
2. A house under renovation with serious violations
3. Permits not displayed correctly or are missing. Unsafe conditions of a building or work that is not up to standard
4. Lack of proper sanitary conditions such as un-working plumbing leading to accumulation and infestations.
5. Significant structural damage or the presence of black mold
6. 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:
1. Provision of hot water
2. Proper ventilation in the house
3. Safe electrical outlets and light fixtures
4. Functional plumbing system
5. The dwelling should be clean, free of pests, and be 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 damages. The authorities may decide to shut off electric power, 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 a 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 the government officials rely on to declare your building non-compliant. Make sure that the 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.
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.