How to Fight Code Enforcement

By Janette Sturges - Updated February 01, 2018
Mowing the grass

Code enforcement, from condemning buildings to investigating poor plumbing, is adopted by communities to preserve the safety, cleanliness and property values of a municipality or other community. But when notices concerning your grass height become more of a nuisance than the grass itself, code enforcement becomes a pain for homeowners. Fighting code enforcement can be difficult and costly. Remember that once fees and expenses are added up, fighting a code enforcement violation can often be much more expensive than simply acting in compliance.

Tip

You can usually fight code enforcement by requesting a hearing with your city or homeowners' association. Strict time limits apply, so act quickly.

Pick your Battles

Contact the Code Enforcement Office

If you are not in violation of a law, contact your city or homeowners' association code enforcement office. Often homeowners' associations contract with a property management company for this purpose. Contact them multiple ways, once by phone as the problem may be cleared up easily with a conversation, and once by mail or email, so you have proof in writing. Request a second inspection of the violation and schedule it for a time you will be home so you can speak with the inspector.

Attend a Hearing

If a second inspection hasn't cleared the violation, request a hearing with your city or homeowners' association. There is often a time limit on hearing requests, usually between 10 and 60 days, so check local regulations and request a hearing as soon as possible. Bring evidence of compliance with local codes, including photos and any inspector's notes, to the hearing. The code enforcement board will make a decision; if they find you still in violation, you will have to comply with the code to their satisfaction and/or pay the associated fine. Your next option will be to sue the homeowners' association or city. Consult a lawyer who specializes in code violations about your case.

About the Author

Jenette Sturges has been a writer and editor since 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from the University of Illinois. As a Fulbright Scholar, she taught English at Hanoi Pedagogical University No. 2 in Vietnam. Her writing and editing have appeared in "The Daily Illini," "The (Anderson, Ind.) Herald-Bulletin," and she has ghostwriten for numerous companies and organizations worldwide.

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