The first step in property maintenance enforcement is to have a valid and enforceable ordinance with an appeal process and specific penalties for violations. Many municipal governments have ordinances that deal with "quality of life" or a "nuisance" ordinance, these ordinances may be old and outdated, making them difficult to enforce. Ordinances must also be broad based to include things like tall grass and junk cars, but they should also include swimming pools and accessory structures like sheds. They must also provide the position of who may enforce the ordinance and what power and authority that individual should have in regards to property maintenance enforcement. In one model code, The International Property Maintenance Code, code officials are given broad enforcement powers to post and condemn unsafe structures and have the authority to order them to be demolished. Although the order is the easy part, actually demolishing a structure on a property is a bit more complicated, which I'll address in another post.
Take a look at your property maintenance ordinance, or if you don't have one, give us a call and we can review your goals and objectives for a property maintenance program and develop an ordinance for you. Consistency and persistence are the two keys to a great enforcement program that works, having a well written property maintenance ordinance is the first step in getting that process off the ground.