Property Rights Violations
Becoming a homeowner, or owning real estate property, is a big part of the American dream. If you own residential property, you have the right to use and enjoy that land. This means you can engage in any legal activity on that property. However, the word “legal” carries a lot of weight in that last sentence. You still must comply with local, state, and federal laws at all times. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to open a liquor store on your property, or many other types of businesses, without a state license.
Zoning regulations may also be attached to your property. These regulations and restrictions are used by local municipalities to control and direct the development of property within their borders. Zoning code disputes may include:
- Constructing a building that is not allowed in that particular zone
- Building a structure (or an addition to a structure) that is too tall or that obstructs another person’s view or access to light/air space
- Conducting various operations in non-designated areas, including manufacturing, packaging, selling, growing, labeling, and other business/industrial activities
- Living in spaces that are not designated as residential areas
- Creating amounts of pollution or noise that exceed local limits
Zoning code violations can result in various legal consequences, such as fines and even a lawsuit.
Most municipalities have adopted a set of municipal codes to establish standards for real estate properties. These are aimed at ensuring the health, safety, and general well-being of their occupants. These codes vary from city to city.
Some examples of code violations include:
- Noxious odors or fumes emanating from your property
- Neglecting to mow your lawn
- Failing to secure buildings
- Parking derelict vehicles
- Failing to remove debris
- Placing improper signage
- Possessing certain farm animals within city limits on your property
The code enforcement process usually starts with a disgruntled neighbor calling their local code enforcement office. A code official investigates and, if a violation is found, the code inspector notifies the violator and gives them a reasonable time to correct the violation, unless there is a serious threat to public safety. If the violation is not corrected within a certain timeframe, a hearing is scheduled before a special magistrate. In some cases, if a violation is found fees may be imposed. This can also lead to a lien against the land on which the violation exists and potentially upon any other real or personal property owned by the violator, potentially impacting the marketability of the title.
In Florida, code violations “run with the land,” and are the responsibility of the land’s current owner. However, failure to include a warranty against code violation in the land sale contract could possibly leave a buyer stuck with financial responsibility for code violations that he/she didn’t create.
Whenever you receive a code enforcement violation, it is wise to take it seriously. Read the notice thoroughly and decide whether you will handle the alleged violation yourself or hire an attorney. It’s important to decide quickly so that none of your rights are waived. However, many notices of violations are often phrased in technical language and can be hard to fully understand.
Laws are continuing to change in Florida and it is critical to know and understand your property rights and always stay protected. I’m Rob Robinson, a 5th generation Floridian practicing law for over 30 years. Residential real estate land violations can oftentimes lead to headaches and considerable expense if not properly addressed. In fact, an active code violation can cost hundreds of dollars a day. I can provide experienced assistance in negotiating with the municipality to determine what needs to be done to mitigate the code violation and to resolve the matter without skyrocketing fines or liens being imposed.
If you need help understanding a code violation or addressing an alleged infraction, please contact my law office immediately. I will work tirelessly to protect your entitlements and property rights.