(June 25, 2010): Cities have the authority, usually provided by State statute, to regulate dangerous and substandard buildings and structures. In Texas, a City has to pass an ordinance to activate its ability to regulate dangerous buildings and structures. See TEX. LOC. GVT CODE § 214 Subchapter A.
Before taking action against a dangerous building, City officials should check their code of ordinances to make sure they have the ability and authority to regulate dangerous structures. This authority will include the ability to require the repair, removal, or demolition of the building and to require occupants of a dangerous building to either vacate the premises or relocate. Common criteria to cause the vacating of a premise include whether or not the building is “dilapidated, substandard, or unfit for human habitation”.
Unoccupied buildings that may pose a danger to the public or be an attractive nuisance to children and/or vagrants are also subject to the regulatory authority of a City. It does not matter if the building or structure is secured or unsecured. This broad regulatory authority is given to a City under the umbrella of providing for the “health, safety and welfare” of its citizens.
The City must follow due process and give proper notification to a property owner before taking action against a building. Consequently, property owners, landlords, or investors who purchase property within a city limit should contact the City and determine what city ordinances are applicable to the property. The same applies to a person who may inherit a building or home, or the business that purchases a property. This also allows the owner to determine if the City is following proper procedure in giving notice and in its determination that a building is unsafe or dangerous.
Cities should always consult legal counsel to ensure proper procedure is being followed when adverse action taken against a building. Concurrently, owners of a building within city limits should consult their attorney if they get a notice that their building is considered a nuisance.
Should you have any questions regarding these issues, don’t hesitate to contact us. For a complementary consultation, you may call Leonard Schneider, J.D., or one of our other attorneys at 1 (800) 475-1906.