How to find Code Violations?

3 Replies

I recently learned about Code Violations and that contacting these owners supposedly has a much higher success rate than simply contacting any regular distressed property owner. So, now i'm trying to figure out just how to find these owners with Code Violations.

I asked the "Zoning" department at my local Public Records office for a list of properties with Zoning/Code Violations, but they told me they don't keep a list on record. Instead, they said they simply take complaints, notify the owner of the property and that "usually is the end of it"...

But, what about the times when that isn't the end of it? What about when the owner doesn't fix whatever the complaint was about, or when they ignore the violation warnings altogether? I find it hard to believe they wouldn't keep that on record..

I was told I could ask the Tax Collectors department about "liens" on properties. Would this be where I could find owners that now have fees owed for having ignored the Code Violations that the "Zoning" department supposedly does not have on record?

When a code violator has not follow up on a violation, the case is usually sent to a local magistrate hearing for follow up or fines. These hearing are usually advertised by the municipality and the agenda is usually public record. Just look for those, that will already give you a good list.

When the municipality put a lien on a property (usually at a late stage in the code enforcement process), these liens are recorded in court. You should have access to your court record and search for liens where one party is a municipality. 

@Corey Rippeto - every locale is going to be different but there should be a code enforcement department that is separate from zoning unless you're in a small city.  Those are two very different types of violations and people involved in zoning may know little (or nothing) about code enforcement.  You should start by googling "Code enforcement CITY" and "Code violations CITY" and then call the code department to see how you can view outstanding violations.  I've found code enforcement officials to be quite helpful if you call and ask them questions.

@Michael Seeker thanks for that info, Michael! Your answer was really helpful. I found and reached out to the local Code Enforcement, and I have been to their office 3 times in the past two days since.

The receptionist told me that only the manager has access to these records and that she has no knowledge of a “list”, but the manager is never in the office and he hasn’t returned either of my phone calls.

Do you know if it’s normal for only the manager to have access to these records?

After all, it is public information.