St. Petersburg Code Enforcement Attorney
Serving You and The State of Florida
The Code Compliance Division ensures that citizens follow County Ordinances and the Land Development Code. The Code Compliance Division achieves compliance by assisting people in understanding property laws and codes. To keep Florida a wonderful place to live and work, we all need to do our part.
The Code Compliance Officers respond to resident complaints about potential code breaches and requests from other County and State agencies.
Typically, and in most cases, officers inform property owners of an infringement on their property and set a time frame to correct the violation. Landowners who refuse to comply with an order can face substantial penalties imposed Code Compliance Division. If an individual or company does not fix the violations, the Code Compliance Special Master hears and considers the matter.
The Code Compliance Division Also Investigates Cases Of:
- Illegal dumping
- Inoperable and untagged cars
- Junk and debris accumulation
- Unsafe buildings
- Overgrown lawns
- Noise concerns
- Land Development Code violations
What Is A Code Enforcement Violation?
“Code Compliance” is described as “the prevention, identification, inspection, and enforcement of violations of laws or ordinances governing the general public. These include health, security, welfare, public services, commercial practices and consumer protection, building codes, land-use, or municipal relations.”
Code compliance liens are statutory liens established by Florida Statutes Chapter 162.
This chapter, also known as the Local Government Code Enforcement Boards Act, establishes procedures for dealing with code violations. When they find a code violation, the code compliance board must give the property owner a reasonable period to remedy the breach.
If you ignore a violation, the enforcement board can impose regular fines of up to $500 per violation until you correct it. These fines become a lien on the real estate where the breach happened. The lien remains on the property until you pay all fines.
How To Report A Code Violation In Florida?
You have three options available for reporting a code compliance violation, depending on the county where the violation exists.
On The Internet
To report a code violation quickly and anonymously, go to your county’s website and select Report a Code Violation from the “I want to” list. A trained code enforcement officer can address the complaint quickly and efficiently. Please give 3-5 days for the officer to investigate the complaint.
You may contact a customer service agent who will send an inspection request to the code enforcement division, which will delegate it to a trained code compliance officer.
You may also email with the name or place of the violation and the violation’s details to an email address given by your county. Your email gets to the Code Enforcement Division, which response as soon as possible.
The Code Compliance Division receives your message, which then assigns it to a certified code compliance officer. Because county emails are subject to public records laws, your complaint may not be anonymous.
Do Homeowners Record All Liens?
The unfortunate truth is no.
Although several liens appear through title searches, many new owners find it is not always that easy. Soon after buying a home, they find out that they have received more than they bargained for — an unrecorded municipal lien against the property.
If a buyer is looking to agree to purchase a piece of land, The Code Division takes different measures to ensure that it covers both the buyer and the seller in the property’s exchange.
Ideally, each should walk away with a clear understanding of what they will have after completing the transaction. However, this is not always the case.
As the new owner, you may be liable for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars due to these liens.
You quickly discover that the only way to clear this lien is to pay off the former owner’s debt.
Contact the Lopez Law Group for advice in such a scenario.
How To Avoid Being Forced To Pay For Unrecorded Liens
The most effective method is to conduct a Florida municipal lien search. When looking at a property that you might want to buy, this form of lien check will reveal any known registered and unrecorded liens on the property. The Lopez Law Group team can conduct a lien search to ensure that the property you are seeking to buy is free from any liens or encumbrances. If a lien is found on the land, the seller must plan before closing the deal to clear the lien and relieve the new owner of the obligation.
How Do I Know If My Property Has A Violation?
Tallgrass, junk-like environments, abandoned cars, and unpermitted work are all examples of code violations. However, if there is any doubt, please contact your County Zoning Regulations office.
Violations of Tall Grass
An infringement occurs when grass grows to a height of over 18 inches. The accumulation of junk, garbage, and debris is the same way. If property owners fail to clean up, the County will hire a contractor to complete the job. If you don’t pay the bill for the job, you’ll get a lien on your property.
Many people worry about high grass because of how they maintain their lawns. Although a well-kept lawn is attractive and well-liked by the neighborhood, Code Officers enforce the rule, not comparing one’s yard to that of a neighbor.
Is There A Ban On Commercial Vehicles In The County?
No law says someone can’t park a work van in their house, but the County forbids dual rear-wheeled vehicles. If you see a large truck, report it when Code Enforcement is most likely to see it, especially in the evenings and weekends.
Abandoned vehicles are not only unsightly but are also illegal. Removing them keeps Florida cities clear of leaking pollutants and prevent dilapidated neighborhoods. Vehicles or trailers that are unregistered, inoperable, and are outside of a garage or carport must be removed. There are currently no restrictions on the number of registered motor vehicles parked on a residential lot.
Illegal Or Unpermitted Constructions
County licenses are vital not only for public safety but also for saving money for the people of Florida. If you need help with the licensing process or encounter issues, contact the Lopez Law Group for a consultation.
I Run a Business. Code Enforcement Sent me an Infringement Notice, as my Property Does Not Have A Land-Use Permit.
What exactly does this mean? The county allocates a zoning district to each parcel of land – residential, commercial, or agricultural. Since each zoning district allows for a wide variety of operations, each parcel must also have an established “need.” It is essential to ensure that uses are consistent with adjacent resources.
The County might need different licenses and inspections depending on the use. Such licenses and inspections guarantee that the standards for life protection, sanitation, and construction are met.
Permits That Can Seem Unnecessary, but are Still Required in Some Florida Counties Include:
- Outbuildings or sheds
- Brush or tree removal
- New roof and re-roofing
- Windows and doors
- Water heater
How Does This Affect Me?
When a property is up for sale, the modification licenses are checked, and unpermitted additions are flagged to impede the sale.
What are Junk Yard Conditions?
Things get in the way sometimes, but keeping our city clear of junk-like conditions is a top priority for public safety and a Zoning Regulations necessity.
These Junk-Like Conditions Include:
- The trash in the yard
- Unusable buildings
- Yard waste piled high
- Vehicles that do not appear to be in working condition e
- Damaged Machinery
- Construction equipment
What Are The Responsibilities Of The Code Enforcement Board And The Special Magistrate?
Under state law, two local legislative boards—call them two separate “judges”—listen to testimony and proof and decide if a property is in breach.
The Code Enforcement Board and the Special Magistrate give a ruling after a hearing where a Code Enforcement Officer notices a violation and learns you are ignoring the violation.
When a property owner is guilty, they are given a set amount of time to remedy the violation before they impose a fine on each day the violation continues. Fines of up to $1,000 a day are possible. They also file liens against the house.
Can The County Impose Penalties?
Any city and county in Florida have the same rule. It provides penalties of up to $1,000 a day for a first offense and $5,000 per day for a second offense. They can file liens against the land if you do not comply. In extreme cases, municipal councils can foreclose on the liens, seizing possession and finding more responsible owners or uses for the land.
I Received A Code Of Violation Receipt. What Do I Do About It Now?
When you receive a request or violation letter, it is assigned to a trained code enforcement officer who will inspect the report. If they find no breach, the case is dismissed. The Code Compliance Process is initiated if a violation is verified, and a Code Compliance Board deliberates until they reach a decision.
Landowners who willingly comply save taxpayers’ money, avoid fines and future liens on their property. It also makes the neighborhood and community a better place to live.
However, not all code violations are simple to fix or fair to the business or homeowner. If you feel you have been unjustly targeted with a code violation, you should contact a Florida attorney skilled in code enforcement matters as soon as possible. As noted above, fines and penalties can quickly accrue, so dealing with the matter in an expedient manner is essential. The process would include:
Appeals For Code Enforcement in Florida
When charged with a code violation, it is essential to note you only have a limited time to file an appeal of a code compliance order. According to Florida law, you must appeal within 30 days of the order’s execution being appealed. If you don’t request a lodge within 30 days, the property owner’s right to appeal a code compliance order is permanently lost.
The three major areas that are the focus of code compliance appeals include:
- If the local government issued the property owner with due process, i.e., if the property owner got fair notice of the breach and had time to remedy the alleged code infringement
- If the code enforcement board’s decision has “substantial, competent evidence,” i.e., if the local government presents enough evidence about the alleged code enforcement violation to support its ultimate decision
- If the local government’s ruling deviates from the “essential requirements of the law,” i.e., if the local government applied the correct law to the case
Over the last decade, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of complaints and appeals filed by landowners contesting code violations brought against them by city authorities.
Our professional code enforcement attorneys have handled many of these investigations.
Lopez code enforcement attorneys are pioneers in appealing code compliance violations and lowering code enforcement penalties. If you or someone you know needs legal help with a code compliance matter in St. Petersburg, Florida, please call us right away at (727) 933-0115.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!