Building codes exist to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. However, not everyone complies with these codes. If you suspect a building code violation, reporting it to the proper authorities is essential. This ensures the issues get corrected before they cause harm. Here are the steps to report a building code violation in your area.
The best way to report suspected building code violations is to contact your local code enforcement office. Most cities and counties have a department in charge of enforcing building codes, zoning codes, and property maintenance regulations. You can typically find the contact information for your code enforcement office on your municipal website or by calling your city or county offices. Code enforcement offices provide phone numbers, emails, and online forms, and sometimes even have a mobile app for conveniently reporting code compliance issues. Code enforcement software is used by many code enforcement departments to log, track, and monitor reported code violations.
When reporting a building code violation, provide as much detail as possible about the location and nature of the violation. At a minimum, you must submit an address or property description so the appropriate code enforcement officer can inspect the site. For complex issues, include details like names of people involved, dates violations were observed, photos or videos, official records like permits or plans, and the specific regulations you believe are not properly followed. The more evidence and details you can provide upfront, the faster and more effective the code enforcement department can be in investigating and addressing reported violations.
Because code enforcement cases can sometimes lead to legal proceedings against violators, it is important to preserve any evidence you have that supports the existence of violations. Take photos and videos of violations at the site, obtain copies of permits, plans, citations, or other records pertaining to the property or issue, and record names and accounts from witnesses. Do not trespass onto private property or engage in any other illegal activity to obtain evidence. Only gather what can be seen and documented from public property or with the owner’s permission.
After submitting a report of building code violations, follow up with the code enforcement office within 7 to 10 business days to check on the status of your complaint and see when an investigation may be scheduled. Be prepared to provide any additional details or evidence that may be requested by the investigating officer. Once an inspection has been conducted, check again within 2 to 3 weeks to find out the results and if any enforcement actions need to be taken against the violators to gain compliance. Continue to follow up at regular intervals until the violations have been fully corrected.
In some situations, building code violations may be part of larger issues involving illegal activity or matters that could have legal ramifications beyond the typical scope of a code enforcement case. If the situation involves issues like fraud, harassment, or unauthorized work by contractors that have caused damages, it may be advisable to consult with a private attorney regarding your legal rights and options in addition to reporting to code enforcement. An attorney can advise you on matters of privacy, and liability, and help determine the most effective strategies for prompt resolution while protecting your interests.