Knowledgebase-City of McMinnville Codes Enforcement Nuts and Bolts


Information Product

Title:City of McMinnville Codes Enforcement Nuts and Bolts
Summary:The City should provide for effective administration of codes and should take steps to improve the code enforcement program.
Original Author:Darden, Ron
Co-Author:
Product Create Date:02/19/2004
Last Reviewed on::10/27/2009
Subject:Code enforcement
Type:General
Original Document: City of McMinnville Codes Enforcement Nuts and Bolts.pdf

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: City of McMinnville Codes Enforcement Nuts and Bolts.doc
City of McMinnville
Codes Enforcement-Nuts and Bolts
By Ron Darden

Introduction

Building and property maintenance codes are technical codes that address many of the health, safety, and aesthetic values of a city. Your city has adopted fourteen (14) of these codes by reference. Title 13 and Title 17 of the Municipal Code contain additional property maintenance requirements in an attempt to provide standards for building and property maintenance.

Legal Basis for Code Enforcement

Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA 6-54-502) authorizes any municipality to adopt by reference the provisions of any code or portions of any building and property maintenance code. When adopting these codes you should remember that copies of the codes must be kept in the city recorder’s office. Penalties may not be adopted by reference and the use of liens must follow strict requirements of the law.

Complaints about Code Enforcement

The length of time to obtain compliance is too long.
We cannot get anything done.
We cannot get help in enforcing the codes.

What MTAS finds upon reviewing codes

Required appeal boards have not been established.
There is no clear procedure for amending the adopted codes.
Someone other than the building official is designated as the public officer for enforcement.
There is not a clear understanding of when to use police power.
There is not a clear understanding of when to use liens.
Procedures for dealing with junked and inoperative vehicles, dilapidated structures, and trash and junk are not well defined.
Procedures for dealing with vegetation control are not well defined.
The codes officer does not have the authority to cite violators to city court.
The codes officer is not allowed to follow the enforcement procedures outlined in the various codes.

How to improve code enforcement

Adopt the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition.
Appoint two appeal boards. One for building and technical codes and another for property maintenance codes.
Adopt a procedure for amending the codes.
Recognize that appeals should be based only upon a claim that the code has been incorrectly interpreted; the provisions of the code do not fully apply; and the requirements of the code are adequately satisfied by other means.
Adopt a procedure for recovery of costs by using a lien.
Do not mow people’s grass. Cite them to city court for violating the city code.
Empower the building official to inspect, give an order, provide a notice and carry out the requirements of the notice to include possible alterations, repairs, demolition, removal of vehicles, and clean up of property that is in violation of the city code.
By resolution designate the building inspector as a special police officer for the issue of citations to city court.
Use the services of the city attorney at the request of the building inspector; when an attorney represents the violator in court; and when the action is appealed to a court.
If the city judge is unsuccessful in enforcing local ordinances, direct the city attorney to file an action in chancery court requesting that the violation be corrected.
Use the city’s police powers to fine instead of lien procedures to enforce codes.
Decide how aggressive you want codes enforced.
Require monthly reports from the code officer outlining citations issued, violations, actions taken, and results.

Recommended Procedures
Inspection Procedures

I. Tall grass and weeds, brush, noxious vegetation. (a). Discuss the violation and compliance requirements with the person violating the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Give them a reasonable time to correct the violation. (b). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue an order and notice of violation under the provisions of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Advise the violator of the time for compliance and his right to appeal to the appeal board. (c). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue a citation for the violator to appear in city court to respond to the violation. An appeal to the appeals board is not allowed after the citation to court is issued. The violator may appeal the decision of the city judge to the appropriate court. (d). Only mow or cut, and place a lien upon the property when, dealing with an absentee landowner who cannot be issued a citation.
II. Inoperative vehicles and equipment (junked automobiles and equipment)- (a). Discuss the violation and compliance requirements with the person violating the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Give them a reasonable time to correct the violation. (b). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue an order and notice of violation under the provisions of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Advise the violator of the time for compliance and his right to appeal to the appeal board. (c). If the violation is not corrected within the time given, issue a citation for the violator to appear in city court to respond to the violation. An appeal to the appeals board is not allowed after the citation to court is issued. The violator may appeal the decision of the city judge to the appropriate court. (d). If the city judge fines a violator $50 per day of violation, the violator will remove the vehicles and/or equipment. If the judge is ineffective in enforcing the city’s standards, direct the city attorney to initiate an action in chancery court to have the vehicles or equipment removed. MTAS does not recommend that staff or contractors go upon private property to seize vehicles and equipment without a court order.
III. Trash, garbage, junk- (a). Discuss the violation and compliance requirements with the person violating the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Give them a reasonable time to correct the violation. (b). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue an order and notice of violation under the provisions of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Advise the violator of the time for compliance and his right to appeal to the appeal board. (c). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue a citation for the violator to appear in city court to respond to the violation. An appeal to the appeals board is not allowed after the citation to court is issued. The violator may appeal the decision of the city judge to the appropriate court. (d). If the city judge fines a violator $50 per day of violation, the violator will remove the trash, garbage and junk. If the judge is ineffective in enforcing the city’s standards, direct the city attorney to initiate an action in chancery court to have the garbage, trash, and junk removed.
IV. Dilapidated structures- (a). Discuss the violation and compliance requirements with the person violating the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Give them a reasonable time to correct the violation. (b). If the violation is not corrected within the time allowed, issue an order and notice of violation under the provisions of the International Property Maintenance Code, 2000 Edition. Advise the violator of the time for compliance and his right to appeal to the appeal board. (c). If the violation is not corrected within the time given, issue a citation for the violator to appear in city court to respond to the violation. An appeal to the appeals board is not allowed after the citation to court is issued. The violator may appeal the decision of the city judge to the appropriate court. (d). If the city judge fines a violator $50 per day of violation, the violator will remove or repair the dilapidated structure. If the judge is ineffective in enforcing the city’s standards, direct the city attorney to initiate an action in chancery court to have the structure demolished. (e). MTAS does not recommend that the city repair, alter, or renovate a structure for compliance enforcement. Recovery of costs, even with a lien, may be ineffective. The code makes it unlawful to transfer ownership of property that has a notice of violation posed on it.
V. Substandard construction (new construction)-(a). Discuss the substandard violation with the builder and request that the violation be corrected within a reasonable period of time. (b). If the violation is not corrected within a reasonable time, follow the notice and order procedure outlined in the Southern Standard Building Code. (c). Any appeal is made to the appeal board for new construction.

Summary

The City has a legal basis for requiring and enforcing building standards and property maintenance standards. Appeal boards should be used as a means to provide due process requirements for violators. The City should provide for effective administration of codes and should take steps to improve the code enforcement program. MTAS recommends the enclosed inspection procedures or that the City develop its own procedures that are easily understood by city council and code administrators.