Code Enforcement Questions Often Arise Because of Inconsistency, Improper Emphasis

Published: June 14, 2024

Your code enforcement questions continue to arrive in our mailbox or via the basic community development questions page.  I decided that we need to give you a separate opportunity to ask about how code enforcement works and also give you a space where you can complain about how there is too much or too little code enforcement.  I have heard plenty of both from you folks, and I understand that.

code enforcement question

Sometimes the administration of a code enforcement program is very poor.  It needs to be compassionate and realistic, and as we have said over and over again on the basics of code enforcement page, the goal of a good program is compliance with the law. 

There is a lot of nonsense being spread about how code enforcement infringes too much on your personal freedom.  If you feel this way, you probably need to move, since codes are laws enacted by your local government in an attempt to meet community standards.  There are many places with very few codes except for health codes.

Having said that, there are many clumsy code enforcement offices or employees. There is no standard training for this work in the U.S.  Some code enforcement officials may have attended a few courses at a community college or technical school to learn the basics of plumbing, electrical work, and building structure. Of course, some are much more qualified because they have an architecture or engineering background, but frankly, in my experience these employees are rare.

More frequently, the inspectors are people who have learned about property maintenance and construction methods on some other job or just from being a contractor themselves or growing up in a household where the building trades were practiced or taught at the hobby level. However, as you can imagine, this means that their knowledge is spotty—deep in some areas and insignificant in others.

Sometimes as we detailed on the code enforcement basics page, police do the code enforcement. I think this is overkill in some respects; I would prefer to have them doing police work. However, in a basically placid small town or suburb, the rationale may be that the police are driving around anyway, so why not use them to spot suspected code violations?  The problem is that bringing the police mentality to code enforcement often means too much suspicion of well-meaning citizens. After all, code enforcement is a civil matter unless a property owner does not comply.

Just below, we have placed a form where you can input your question, or report on your experiences. Unless you are overly inflammatory or incoherent, we publish your comment or question on this website, and most of the time I add my own comment or certainly answer your question. The exception might be when I don’t know the answer!

Below the form, you can see what others have said.

Do You Have a Question about Code Enforcement?

Are you wondering why code enforcement seems overly eager to keep after you or someone you know? Or are you thinking why in the world does my town do so little enforcement of their own laws? Here is where you ask all kinds of questions about code enforcement policies and procedures.

Questions We Have Answered

Click below to see contributions from other visitors or editors.

Code officer ignores my written complaints 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: A wealthy and gregarious neighbor has SCHMOOZED the code officer into looking the other way on his development. …

Homeowners rights with code enforcement 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I live in North Miami and I have this code officer harassing me because of a code violation report to them …

Vines on home: code violation or landscaping enhancement? 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: A single-family home in my neighborhood has vines covering much of the exterior. The growth appears uncultivated …

Code enforcement targeting an individual 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Could I be targeted for code violations? Editors Respond: We assume that you mean that you feel that …

Elected Officials and Ordinance Enforcement 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Is it legal for the Mayor or city council member to enforce city ordinances but not obey them on their own …

How far can the city go in forcing citizens to obey codes? 
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Our city is really gonzo about forcing citizens to keep their property "code worthy." Every person up …

Code Enforcement Right to Enter Property  
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Can a Non-Certified, non-law enforcement Code Enforcer in Colorado enter your property without permission …

Armed code enforcement Not rated yet
Visitor Question: Why are code enforcement carrying fire arms? This is in Riverside County, California. Editors Reply: This is not typical throughout …

Demolition would cost town too much Not rated yet
Visitor Question: I am an elected official in a small rural town, where we have many demolition challenges. Our code enforcement officer has been active, …

Resident told to hire a lawyer to get codes enforced Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I have a neighbor who extended his driveway onto my property and a neighbor who built a pad for his boats, …

City shuts off water for code violations Not rated yet
Reviewed: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: Our City Council has adopted a policy of shutting off city-provided water to residences to enforce code violations. …

Is code enforcement required to provide translation Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Is code enforcement required to provide translation of violations? Code enforcement took $470 from my friend …

Can code officer decide what is trash? Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Who decides what is trash (inside of a 30 gallon plastic container)? Is that the homeowner or the city code …

Can Code Enforcement make me live in a home that is a health hazard? Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Hello. I live in an unincorporated city in Riverside County. I live on a property that is in probate. I …

Opposition to Code Violation Reporting Not rated yet
Reviewed: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: For over thirty years, a few activists in our neighborhood have gotten good results from systematically reporting …

Can code enforcement officers take furniture from backyard  Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Okay so I came home to find multiple things missing from my backyard such as our kids' basketball hoop and …

Code Enforcement says too much stuff  Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: My husband has ADD. He lost his job and as a result, he buys and sells things. He got cited from Code Enforcement …

Rural code enforcement inconsistent Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I live in rural Iowa and city codes are just coming into service. While I sometimes wonder who thought …

Unlicensed Short Term Rentals Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I operate an Airbnb in Colorado. My town recently enacted an ordinance for STR to require a license and …

Town codes not enforced Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: The town I live in is not enforcing the written codes such as parking lot requirements and snow removal. …

Can code enforcement move my car from the back yard  Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Can a code enforcement officer move my car from my back yard of my property? Editors Reply: The answer …

Do housing codes violate civil rights Not rated yet
Last Reviewed: July 4, 2024 Visitor Question: It seems like many housing codes are very restrictive about what my neighbors and me can and cannot …

Property Upkeep Code to Protect Neighborhood Quality Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: We live in a neighborhood of single family homes. Because we are in the county and not the city, the International …

Code Enforcement and Standing Water Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Website Visitor's Original Question: A family purchased a small inflatable swimming pool during the summer, and placed …

Click here to write your own.

Feel harassed by code enforcement officer Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I was given a code violation for graffiti on my fence. Every year I have had to correct this. This year …

Code Enforcement in Rural Areas Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Is there any code enforcement in rural areas? I'm tired of living around junked cars, rusting machinery, …

Code enforcement entered home Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I live in Flint, Michigan. Code enforcement entered my home, threw back the door, then took pictures of …

Threatening behavior by code officers  Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Three code officers came to my place, carrying weapons on the first visit. All of my permits are up to date. …

Code enforcement singling me out Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: What if anything can I do if code enforcement is sending me letters for violations and not to anybody else …

Punishment for not correcting serious code violations Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: A legitimate complaint was made against a neighbor's property for serious and dangerous code violations, …

Notice to property owner when building posted unsafe Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Can the city say a building is unsafe without going inside, and can it put a sign on your building without …

Can codes help with condo sewage problem Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: I own a condo on one side. The lady next door owns the condo on the other side. She moved to another state, …

Code enforcement officer in backyard without consent Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: Hi. I am a resident of the Village of BISCAYNE Park, Dade County. I have the code enforcement officer harassing …

Code Enforcement Letters Not Received Not rated yet
Reviewed: June 12, 2024 Visitor Question: So I had a rather large problem arise involving a code enforcement and wanted some info before dealing with …

Code Enforcement Letter Received Not rated yet
Last Reviewed: July 4, 2024 Visitor Question: We received a letter which was a fill-in-the-blanks city code violation form that says we have 10 days …

Not Enforcing Town Code Not rated yet
Last Reviewed: July 4, 2024 Visitor Question: Our town of Southeast NY has a law stating there shall be no parking of exposed commercial vehicles …

Noise Ordinance Not rated yet
Last Reviewed: June 14, 2024 Visitor Question: We are thinking about having a noise ordinance, because we are tired of boom boxes, marital arguments …

Click here to write your own.


  1. Making and Keepipng a Good Community
  2.  >
  3. Community Work Questions
  4.  > Code Enforcement Questions

Join GOOD COMMUNITY PLUS, which provides you monthly with short features or tips about timely topics for neighborhoods, towns and cities, community organizations, and rural or small town environments. Unsubscribe any time. Give it a try.