If you receive a code compliance violation in Florida, it's important to take prompt and appropriate action to address the issue. Code compliance violations are actually some of the more serious laws in Florida and these violations can carry penalties that you will want to avoid. Here are guidelines that will help you through the process should you receive a code compliance violation.
Understand the Nature of the Violation
It is important to carefully review the violation notice to understand the specific code or ordinance you are alleged to have violated. Make sure you fully understand the nature of the violation and why it is being cited. This understanding will help you take appropriate corrective action. Also, take note of the deadline given for compliance.
Chapter 162 of Florida Statutes sets forth the various ways in which a local government can enforce code violations such as imposing a fine that might continue to accrue on a daily basis. In certain cases, building code violations can result in criminal charges if the municipality does not believe someone has not complied with the codes after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so.
Review the Local Code Requirements
Reviewing local code requirements when faced with a code compliance violation involves a systematic and thorough approach. The first thing to do is obtain a copy of the local building codes and regulations. This information is typically available from the local government's building department or online. Also, check zoning regulations to ensure that the property use and structure comply with the designated zone. It is also important to examine the original construction plans and permits for the property. Ensure that the current structure aligns with the approved plans.
Please also see Understanding Local Code Enforcement.
Communicate with the Code Enforcement Officer
Communicating with a code enforcement officer is an important step in addressing and resolving any issues related to building codes, zoning regulations, or other property-related violations. First, find out who the specific code enforcement officer is for your area. This information is usually available through your local government's website or by contacting the city or county offices. Next, schedule an appointment rather than trying to catch them on the spot. Go into the meeting prepared and always stay calm and friendly. Being confrontational will not be productive. Politely seek clarification on the specific code or regulation that is in question. Make sure you understand what steps are needed to be taken to come into compliance. If possible, attend the meeting with potential solutions to address the violation. This proactive approach demonstrates your willingness to cooperate and resolve the problem.
Note: make sure you keep records of all communications with the code enforcement officer, including emails, letters, and notes from meetings. Having a clear record could be helpful in the future should any disputes arise.
Please also see Code Enforcers in Florida.
Determine a Plan of Action
If you are not able to come to an agreement with the code enforcement officer, it is time to consult with a professional immediately, unless you want to undertake this complicated process by yourself. Satisfying a code violation is serious business and demands your attention. Any delay in action could cost you considerable fines, legal action, or possibly the loss of your property.
I’m Rob Robinson, and I have over two decades of experience in guiding my clients through the code enforcement process in Southwest Florida. Having served as a code enforcement special magistrate for a Florida municipality in the past, I understand the local code compliance process and can help you challenge an accusation that you violated a county or city regulation, or code or rule, during a hearing or file an appeal after an adverse action.
My goal is to provide personalized service and high-quality legal care to ensure that your code enforcement matters are handled correctly, fairly, and legally. If you receive a code compliance violation, please contact my office promptly so that we can draft an appropriate response that complies with local and state laws.