How Code Enforcement Can Benefit Your Community

    Code enforcement refers to the enforcement of local laws written to govern the integrity of structures and their maintenance. Your local municipality might enforce building codes, which govern the methods used to build structures, or property maintenance codes, which govern things like how often you should cut your grass. Your town might even have a vacant building registration intended to help combat squatting in vacant buildings. And while lots of people might be resistant to adhering to building and property maintenance codes, code enforcement is actually designed to benefit communities.

    Code enforcement, at its root, is about public safety. It ensures that structures are built correctly and that elements like plumbing and electrical are installed safely. Code enforcement keeps homes from falling into dangerous and unsightly disrepair. 

    It Keeps Businesses and Restaurants Safe

    Code inspectors and enforcers aren’t just there to tell you to cut your grass and clean up your yard. They’re also there to make sure that local businesses and restaurants are adhering to local safety ordinances. They make sure that restaurants and businesses have fire exits and that they don’t become overcrowded, for example. Food service codes govern how restaurants handle food, and their enforcement protects your meals from contaminants. 

    It Protects Your Property Values

    When a neighbor’s inability or unwillingness to take care of their own property gets so bad that it’s dragging down your property value, you’ll be glad that code enforcement is there to let them know it’s time to clean up. Usually, code violations are a civil matter, and aren’t treated as a criminal matter unless they become repeated and defiant. When someone in your neighborhood has a yard full of weeds, tall grass, and piles of junk and broken-down cars, code enforcement is there to help eliminate the eyesore and protect the property values of other neighbors who take the time to care for their properties. 

    Of course, sometimes people let their homes fall into disrepair because they can no longer afford to pay for the upkeep. Ticketing people who can’t afford needed repairs isn’t going to get the repairs done – if they can’t afford them, they can’t afford them. In many areas, there is financial help available for property owners who can’t afford repairs needed to correct code violations. Taking advantage of these programs can help struggling property owners maintain the value in their homes, while also adhering to the community’s standard for the look of their home.

    It Can Prevent Accidents and Mishaps

    Overgrown lawns, junk piles, broken-down fences, abandoned cars, and vacant buildings all seem to invite accidents and injuries. Children might be tempted to play in an abandoned building and hurt themselves, especially if the building is in disrepair. A homeowner attempting to move around in his or her overgrown lawn might trip over a rusty hubcap and break an arm. A dilapidated porch might collapse. Loose components of broken down fences, cars, and other junk can harm children or pets. Even if your neighbor doesn’t have any junk and it’s just a matter of long grass, that too can dangerous. Long grass can attract snakes and hornets are more likely to make their nests in it.

    How to Use Code Enforcement

    The modern proliferation of code enforcement software means that in many locales, you can make a code violation complaint online. However, you might have to call the code inspector in your location. Most municipalities allow people to make anonymous code violation complaints, but make sure to provide specific information on the property in question when you speak to the code enforcement office. They will need the house’s exact address. 

    When you interact with the code inspector, be polite. Try to become familiar with what is and isn’t in your local property maintenance codes so you’re not calling to complain about things that aren’t governed by the code. Try not to be one of those people who makes a lot of largely frivolous complaints to the code inspector. That will earn you a reputation as a pest and you’ll have a harder time being taken seriously if you do need help with something major. Save your code violation complaints for when you see a situation that is actually dangerous, or for when the violations are especially egregious. 

    Code enforcement can feel a little intrusive to some people, but it’s definitely not without its benefits. It can make your whole neighborhood look and feel nicer, and can make your community safer, too.