How to Handle Routine Code Enforcement Cases
A routine code enforcement case is simply any housing code violation regarding a single-family residential unit or duplex, either owner-occupied or rental. This includes the exterior property area, garages, sheds, fences, and the structure itself, both interior and exterior. Code enforcement is also responsible for maintaining the City’s right-of-way free and clear of obstructions and garbage. For complaints about a dwelling of three or more units, contact Fire Prevention at 651-266-8989.
Call 651-266-8989 to report a violation or make a complaint. If you do not feel comfortable calling, you can use our online Report an Incident form to file a grievance. Our most common calls are for garbage and rubbish, mattresses, appliances, junk vehicles, graffiti, and overgrown properties.
An inspector visits the property. This usually occurs the next day after the call, and is almost always within the week. If the inspector determines the complaint is valid or founded (i.e., finds a violation), then a correction order or abatement order is mailed to the occupant and the property owner.
Follow the progress of the case online. Once an inspector determines the complaint is founded, the property address, the inspector’s badge number, what the inspector found, what the inspector did, and approximately when the inspector will be back can all be seen online. Keep in mind that Neighborhood Housing and Property Improvement closes the case when either the issues are resolved or a work order is sent to the Parks Department to abate the problem. In other words, it’s possible that we’ve closed the case but the junk still remains because the Parks Department crew hasn’t gotten there yet.
After the timeline for compliance has passed, there is a re-inspection of the property. If non-compliant, then a misdemeanor tag is issued or a $50 excessive consumption bill is mailed. If it’s garbage and rubbish, a junk vehicle, ice or snow on the sidewalk, or tall grass or weeds, a Parks Department work crew is sent out to clean up, shovel, or mow. This is called an abatement. The Police Department handles abatement tows, which can cost up to $1000. If the City has to come abate the problem, the cost is billed at $240 per hour minimum and assessed to the owner’s property taxes. Graffiti removal is a special situation. If you’re the victim of graffiti, the City will remove it at no cost. Call 651-266-8989.
If we have to come out a second time to re-inspect, and there’s still not compliance, the charge is $75. Every time after that is $150.
Even if the property owner corrects the violation in timely fashion, you only get so many chances before criminal charges are filed or excessive consumption bills are mailed. If there’s a second founded violation within two years of a similar founded violation, we will issue a tag on the day we find the violation rather than on the reinspect day. If there’s a third founded violation within 12 months, we'll send a $50 bill, assessable to your property taxes if not paid. A fourth in 12 months is $75. A fifth is $150.
Keep in mind that progress can be slow. Sometimes the property owner appeals the inspector’s decision that a violation exists. Sometimes the property owner fails to appear in court and a warrant has to be issued. Sometimes the Parks Department crew takes a week to get there. We have instituted three new procedures to try to speed up compliance:
- If it’s garbage, rubbish, mattresses, appliances, etc. on or near an alley, call 651-266-8989. Immediately - without an inspector visit - a letter is sent to the property owner giving 72 hours from the date of mailing to clean-up. After 72 hours an inspector visits to check if the junk is gone and verifies the address. If the junk is still there, a work order is immediately sent to the Parks Department Abatement Crew. Hopefully this will result in alley trash removal within days of the original call. Keep in mind that for serious hazards we can do immediate abatements.
- If it’s tall grass and weeds (over eight inches high) in the boulevard, it’s the same as alley trash. See above and call 651-266-8989 for immediate action.
- If it’s a correction order situation (a house that needs painting, or a new roof, etc.), then we have a list of resources (pdf file) to help property owners achieve compliance.
There is a customer satisfaction survey online so we can see how we’re doing in your eyes. If you think we closed a file without solving the problem, you can tell us that.