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The Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Hamilton operates under the direction and control of the Police Department. The Code Enforcement Officer fields complaints, photographs violations, leaves notices and or mails out code violation letters. The Code Enforcement Officer then performs follow-up checks on the property, usually 10 days after the notice was delivered, depending on the violation.
If the property has been brought into compliance the matter is dropped. If during the follow-up the property as not been brought into compliance and the person that is in control of the property has not made efforts to address the violation or communicated with the Code Enforcement Officer, then the officer turns their information over to the Police Officer that is on duty at the time. The Officer checks by the property and photographs the violation, then a case number is issued and the case is turned over to Municipal Court for prosecution.
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Code enforcement’s purpose is to improve the safety, health and welfare of all citizens living within local governmental jurisdictions. Municipalities have the authority to impose administrative fines when a code violation persists. While every governing body has its own procedures for noncompliance, it is common to issue notices of violation to the property owner. If there is no cooperation within a given time frame, either abatement processes commence or fines are imposed.
Your identity is protected by the government code and is not released to anyone outside of staff. Code enforcement should have your name and phone number to provide the best follow-up action possible for every complaint. Many times we need to contact you to confirm either continuing problems or that the violation has been eliminated to your satisfaction. It is also important to be able to contact you in the event we find that the “problem” is not a violation enforceable, maybe, not even a violation at all.
If you are anonymous and we’re unable to let you know these circumstances, you will be left with the negative impression that we have ignored your complaint.
Code enforcement attempts to solicit voluntary compliance with the property maintenance, health and safety, and other quality of life violations that come to their attention. Failure to gain compliance within a reasonable period of time may result in municipal prosecution or civil abatement.
Code enforcement works with both property owners and their tenants when enforcing responsible property maintenance standards. The property owner is usually contacted by mail regarding sub-standard conditions that occur at the property and tenants are contacted on site about violations that require their attention. The property owner is ultimately held jointly responsible for any continuing problems that result from the tenant’s lack of compliance.
Any structural or safety issue that would require a substantial financial investment to correct is usually the property owner’s responsibility, such as a leaking roof, dilapidated fencing, or collapsing adjacent storage structures, etc. Tenants have legal custody and control of the property so they are required to correct the violations that are of their making. They would be held accountable for either repairing inoperable vehicles or removing them from public view. They would also be held accountable for providing a continuing program of landscape maintenance and the removal of any trash, discards, or litter accumulations about the property.
This is a commonly asked question because the problem occurs in nearly every residential neighborhood where aging landscape conditions exist. Code enforcement does not have the authority to require a property owner to trim or remove any of their vegetation unless it overhangs into a public right-of-way - impeding either pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or unless the vegetation is dead and presents a potential fire hazard.
Instead, this particular question is a good example of a civil matter between property owners. Code enforcement does recommend callers attempt to work this out amicably with their neighbor. (Any offending branches/vegetation may be trimmed back to the caller’s property line, as long as the trimming does not impact the future life of the plant.)