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When Code Enforcement Is Better For The Community

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Some assume that building code violations are primarily confined to one owner, one building and one violation. But when we break down the impact of code enforcement on a community, we see a much bigger picture.

Let’s compare a building code violation to a parking ticket or citation. Parking tickets are serious, of course. And people don’t like those who are parked illegally to block their sidewalks and other areas. Yet, the impact of one person’s parking ticket is still somewhat limited.

On the other hand, a building code violation can impact far more people in the neighborhood and community. How can that happen?

First, imagine considering a new home in a neighborhood that, at a glance, looks very inviting. However, upon a closer look, you see the house next door has a rusted laundry machine in the yard. There is a car in the driveway in a state of total disrepair and debris is strewn all over the yard. It’s not temporary – that’s how the house and yard all look.

Would that bother you as a potential neighbor? Absolutely! One house like that can have a profound impact negatively on property values in the neighborhood.

Conversely, let’s say a particular owner is the only one on the block who does not obey water restrictions, so his lawn can be the best looking of anyone else’s. If that isn’t being enforced, what will that do to his neighbors who comply when to water their lawns? They’re going to be very irritated. And nobody wants that.

A home that is in compliance will likely maintain and grow its property value.

Therefore, the endgame for a municipality is to get building code violators into a hearing, where real dialogue and resolutions will occur. We can reach common ground on when the issue that caused the violation will be addressed.

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Keeping Building Code Violations Out Of Circuit Court

In another example, let’s say a resident in the community is engaging in the kind of activity that deserves a building code violation. He has tall grass that hasn’t been mowed for many months. Still, he refuses to address the issue. And the neighbors are getting irritated.

“We all take pride in our properties. He doesn’t and is bringing our property values down!”

Finally, the issue is remanded to a circuit court judge who brings a building code violation to the circuit court. The resident receives a fine.

Good news? Problem resolved? No.

It’s the 10th time the bad neighbor has been fined. A fine is not a resolution and the neighbors are getting extremely restless. They don’t just want another fine issued. They want the problem fixed. Once and for all.

What to do next? Rather than a circuit court judge, there’s something to be said for having a hearing officer preside over a hearing who is familiar with the town. Rather than just fining the offender, he advises ample time for a discussion and, hopefully, a reasonable resolution to be reached at the hearing.

Beyond fines, this approach through DACRA’s technology, and specifically the code enforcement software module, focuses on what matters most to the community – a swift answer they can live with from a hearing officer who understands their situation much better. 


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