Code violations come in many flavors. According to Code Violation Services Inc., violations can include garbage in a yard, maintenance issues, overgrown lawns, unapproved improvements, safety issues or other dangerous items needing repair in a property. When the city records a code violation, a fee is assigned to the property. Because code violations do not show up as a lien on a title search, it can be difficult to ascertain whether a sanction has been assessed that will delay closing, without contacting the city. Code violations have a way of popping up on paperwork suddenly. A home inspection and follow-up with the city can reveal code violations.
Get a referral to an independent home inspector from the local real estate commission in your area or from your real estate agent when purchasing a property. Real estate boards and agents keep lists of certified home inspectors on hand for buyers and prospective buyers. A trained, certified home inspector displays expert knowledge in construction and property codes for the areas he serves, uncovering potential issues upon inspection. The cost to hire the inspector ranges from $300 to $500 in most areas.
Review the information from the home inspector. Inspectors email reports to a client 24 to 48 hours after completion of the home inspection, if not sooner. In the report, there is a section specific to building code violations found by the inspector.
Contact the city building inspector with the address of the property. The building inspector's office will confirm whether cited violations have any assessed fees requiring payment. If the violation in your report has not been assessed a penalty, you are in the clear when it comes to fees; however, you must make corrections to the violations yourself or negotiate repairs with the seller of the property.
When it comes to buying and selling properties, foreclosures often display code violation issues. However, foreclosures are also sold “as is,” meaning that the seller will not pay for repairs or code violations. In the case of serious violations requiring costly investment, it might be better to walk away from the transaction, as opposed to purchasing a home in considerable disrepair.