Code enforcement may lead to fines and other headaches. Learn what the most common code violations are in Florida so you can prevent them.
Code violations are common throughout Florida's many cities and districts. Local codes put standards in place for the appearance and maintenance of properties, whether commercial or residential, and govern issues such as the kinds of signage that can be posted and where.
Rules and codes may vary by city or county, but there are many common violations to be aware of throughout Florida. What follows is a brief overview of how code violations are issued and a look at some of the most frequent ways property owners run afoul of them.
How are code violations issued?
Code enforcement officers are designated by municipal governments and issue citations to citizens when a violation has been reported or they are believed to have committed a civil infraction. According to Florida statutes, the officer first provides notice of the violation, and the person must correct the problem within a reasonable time period (usually 30 days). Otherwise, a citation will be issued.
However, the officer can use his or her discretion, and a time period for correction does not always have to be given if there is a threat to the public or this isn't the first occurrence of the violation.
The form the citation takes will be determined by the county, but they typically must include all applicable details, such as:
- Name and address of the offender
- Date and time of issuance
- Section of the code that was violated
- Name of the enforcement officer
- Other information about the violation itself
- Steps that must take to correct it or to pay the fine
Here are six of the most common Florida code violations to be aware of.
1. Debris on the property
Debris is prohibited from yards and properties in many cities and counties. This means residents cannot leave trash and junk on the lawn, like old car parts, appliances, furniture, tires, or other debris from their home or unwanted belongings. Prohibited debris may also include trimmings from trees and shrubs.
2. Fumes produced by the property
If a property is putting out noxious odors, fumes, or other substances that impact nearby residents or pose a threat to the environment, these emissions are likely going to be a code violation. Any kind of gas, smoke, or material that is considered offensive or dangerous might be included in the code.
Some signage is restricted under city and county ordinances. Examples include:
- Signs in restricted areas, like road medians
- Advertising signs that are improper or illegal
- Illuminated displays with intense brightness that may impact drivers
- Unsafe signs that may fall or are not installed properly
- Signs that obstruct openings like fire escapes or doors
Erecting signs that violate these rules will lead to a code violation notice or citation.
4. Lawn violations
Many cities have rules in place about yard maintenance. These laws are meant to maintain the city's appearance as well as ensure that plants and lawn items aren't interfering with sidewalks, streets, or other residents' properties. There may be specific grass height guidelines that must be followed to avoid a citation, and hedges, trees, and vegetation may have to be contained within certain parameters.
5. Derelict or inoperable vehicles
Another common violation relates to storing rundown or abandoned vehicles or boats on a property. Vehicles that are considered derelict or inoperable usually cannot be kept more than a few days unless they're stored in a garage or other structure. Vessels are inoperable if they cannot safely be driven on streets or used according to their intended purpose, or if a car doesn't have a current tag.
6. Home maintenance issues
There are many local codes about the exterior of buildings and homes, including the way fixtures for electrical and plumbing services are installed. Often codes and standards also relate to the appearance and condition of external and internal structures, which could include any part of a home or building, including the roof, windows, doors, porch, walls, and fence.
These are just a few of the many common local codes that you must follow in your city or county. Avoid code violations by understanding the local laws and regulations that must be adhered to on your property.
If you're dealing with a code violation citation and are unsure of the local laws, work with an attorney at PeytonBolin. Our team of board-certified lawyers will explain your options and get to the bottom of the situation. Contact the attorneys at PeytonBolin to get started with a phone consultation.