code-enforcement - Posted by michaela-ATL

Posted by Frank Chin on January 16, 2004 at 07:41:55:


Yes, it happens here in NYC.

For multi’s, 3 families and over, I’m subject to an anuual Fire Department inspection. Once a year, they pull up in a fire truck, go down a street, ring doorbells, and check for violations.

The Fire Department check involves looking for stuff place in public areas, such as bicycles parked in lobbies, plants on fire escapes, junk placed in furnace rooms etc.

Then, there’s the building department code inspectors. As there are many illegal conversions in the boro, that’s the high priority enforecement area right now.

Happened to be chatting with a plumbing inspector working in this area while he’s conducting a “gas test” which takes 30 minutes. He explained he worked building code enforecement at one point, and I asked him for his typical day.

He tells me they go check a violation on a 2 family rented as a 3 or 4 family, based on complaints, or a unresloved situation on file. While he’s there, he checks mailboxes up an down the street, and for mail laying around, and if he suspects something, rings the doorbells, and come inside to look.

Just to add that I was told by my expeditor, and plumber that this “young inspector” is nothing but trouble. But my plumber, who’s a straight shooter, said he knows this guy well, and he simply does everything by the book. I’m told others drop by to sign off on a gas test after 3 or 4 minutes, then goes to have a cup of coffee, whereas this guy hangs around a dank basement for 30 minutes watching the test.

So I suspect that your new inspector is doing things by the book till he gets more experienced. LOL.

I got a good laugh reading about the City Council meeting regarding this issue, i.e., why is enforcement not solving the problem. You may be surprised to hear that enforcement is stumped because 90% of the time, doorbells are rung, no none is home as people are away at work.

Maybe the best way is not to answer the door at all. Put that in the lease!! (just kidding) There was a police investigation in my neighborhood once where they were going down the street ringing doorbells to inquire about a local burglary. They saw me go in the house, and later rang and rang the bell saying “this is the police!! open up!!”. I just turned the volume up on my TV set, ignored them, and they finally went away.

I got nothing to tell them as I was at work when whatever it was happened.

Frank Chin

code-enforcement - Posted by michaela-ATL

Posted by michaela-ATL on January 16, 2004 at 06:34:28:

I was meeting with another investor yesterday, when he got a call from a code-enforcement inspector. This guy is new to his position and he explained, that this investor had some code violations (no heating source in the bathroom of a 500sqf studio) in one of his properties. he would have until monday to install heat or get cited.

The inspector explained, that he’s going through the neighborhood, knocking on everybody’s door asking them to let him in, and then looks for code violations.

I know there are different rules in different states, but this doesn’t sound proper. Can a code inspector do that? This happens to be in my neighborhood and even though my house is completely renovated/restored, I’m sure there’s always something that can be found, if someone’s looking for it. Whether it’s something stored in the attic, that may be a fire hazard or whatever.


Re: code-enforcement - Posted by MNChicago

Posted by MNChicago on January 16, 2004 at 16:39:15:

Never let anyone in uninvited, especially
police (unless they have a warrant) and the
IRS. It is your home, and you are under no

Tell them they can write you about the
specifics of what it is they want in order
for you to be in a position to know how to
properly respond/address the issue.

If you do not assert your rights to privacy,
you give them up.

Re: code-enforcement - Posted by Matt (MPD) IL

Posted by Matt (MPD) IL on January 16, 2004 at 10:41:27:

As you said, I’m sure the rules are different in every municipality but here we are NOT required to let the city inspectors inside unless there is already a known violation. In fact, a few years ago they started making me sign a notice that says I’m not legally required to allow them in but that I am doing so of my own accord. Inspectors must have expressed, written permission to inspect anything owner-occupied where we live. *This doesn’t stop them from inspecting outside however. They can and do cite people for violations on the exterior or grounds.

Unless I have specific reason for an inspection (following a permit or something) I no longer let inspectors come in and go on a fishing expedition. As you said, they almost always come up with something. I had one time where the only things they found were: 1) Had to put hook-and-eye latches on the scuttle cover to prevent it from “blowing out” in the event of a fire (not listed in any codes in our area) and 2) Had to stencil in both english and spanish on supporting studs in the basement “Load Bearing - Do Not Remove!” (Again, not even close to resembling anything listed in codebooks here.) So as you can see… if they want to, they CAN find ANYTHING to cite you for.