CHAPTER 145

DANGEROUS BUILDINGS

145.01  Purpose

145.08  Emergency Abatement Measures

145.02  Authority for Enforcement

145.09  Notice to Owner

145.03  Interference with Property Maintenance Official

145.10  Conduct of Hearing

145.04  General Definition of Unsafe

145.11  Posting of Signs

145.05  Unsafe Building

145.12  Right to Demolish; Municipal Infraction

145.06  Nuisances

145.13  Costs

145.07  Notice to Abate

 

145.01    PURPOSE.  The purpose of this chapter is to designate the responsibilities of persons for maintenance of structures, equipment and exterior property within the City, to define nuisances as a result of the failure to perform such maintenance, and to provide for the abatement of such nuisances in order to provide for the safety and preserve the health and welfare of the citizens of the City.

145.02    AUTHORITY FOR ENFORCEMENT.  The Mayor shall be responsible for the enforcement of this chapter and shall have all the necessary authority to carry out such enforcement.  Any person designated by the Mayor to enforce this chapter shall be known as the Property Maintenance Official.

145.03    INTERFERENCE WITH PROPERTY MAINTENANCE OFFICIAL.  No person shall interfere with the Property Maintenance Official while engaged in the enforcement of this chapter.

145.04    GENERAL DEFINITION OF UNSAFE.  All buildings or structures that are structurally unsafe or not provided with adequate egress, or which constitute a fire hazard, or are otherwise dangerous to human life, or which in relation to existing use constitute a hazard to safety or health, or public welfare, by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment, are, for the purpose of this chapter, unsafe buildings.  All such unsafe buildings are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition, or removal in accordance with the procedure specified in this chapter.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 657A.1 & 364.12[3a])

145.05    UNSAFE BUILDING.  “Unsafe building” means any structure or mobile home meeting any or all of the following criteria:

1.                  Fire Hazard.  Whenever any building or structure, because of dilapidated condition, deterioration, damage, or other cause, is determined by the Fire Marshal or Fire Chief to be a fire hazard.

2.                  Abandoned.  Whenever any portion of a building or structure remains on a site after the demolition or destruction of the building or structure or whenever any building or structure is abandoned for a period in excess of six (6) months so as to constitute such building or portion thereof an attractive nuisance or hazard to the public.

145.06    NUISANCES.  A failure to satisfy any of the following provisions shall constitute a nuisance:

1.                  General.  All structures, equipment, and exterior property, whether occupied or vacant, shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary condition as provided herein so as not to cause or contribute to the creation of a blighted area or adversely affect the public health or safety.

2.                  Rodent and Vermin Harborage.  All structures, equipment, and exterior property shall be kept free from rodent and vermin harborage and infestation.  Where rodents and vermin are found, they shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes that will not be injurious to human health.  After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to eliminate rodent and vermin harborage and prevent
re-infestation.

3.                  Accessory Structures.  All accessory structures, including detached garages, fences, and walls shall be maintained structurally sound and in good repair.

4.                  Exterior and Foundation Walls.  All foundation walls shall be maintained plumb and free from open cracks and breaks and shall be kept in such condition so as to prevent the entry of rodents and vermin.

5.                  Roofs and Drainage.  All roofs and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain.  Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair, with proper anchorage and free from obstructions.

6.                  Stairways, Decks, Porches, Balconies, Handrails and Guards.  Every exterior stairway, deck, porch, and balcony, and all appurtenances attached thereto shall be maintained structurally sound, in good repair, with proper anchorage and capable of supporting the imposed loads.

7.                  Chimneys and Towers.  All chimneys, cooling towers, smoke stacks, and similar appurtenances shall be maintained structurally safe and sound, and in good repair.

8.                  Basement Hatchways.  Every basement hatchway shall be maintained to prevent entrance of rodents, vermin, and rain and surface drainage water.

145.07    NOTICE TO ABATE.  Upon discovery of any violation of Section 145.06, the City shall within five (5) days initiate abatement procedures as outlined in Chapter 50 of this Code of Ordinances.

145.08    EMERGENCY ABATEMENT MEASURES.  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, whenever in the judgment of the Property Maintenance Official any nuisance is an immediate and imminent threat to life and property, the Property Maintenance Official may, with or without prior notice as required within, order the nuisance abated and costs assessed against the property for collection in the same manner as a property tax.  However, prior to such assessment, the City shall give the property owner notice as provided by the Code of Iowa and this Code of Ordinances.

145.09    NOTICE TO OWNER.  The Property Maintenance Official shall examine or cause to be examined every building or structure or portion thereof reported as dangerous or damaged and, if such is found to be an unsafe building as defined in this chapter, said official shall give to the owner of such building or structure written notice stating the defects thereof.  This notice may require the owner or person in charge of the building or premises, within 48 hours or such reasonable time as the circumstances require, to commence either the required repairs or improvements or demolition and removal of the building or structure or portions thereof, and all such work shall be completed within 90 days from date of notice, unless otherwise stipulated by the Property Maintenance Official.  If necessary, such notice shall also require the building, structure, or portion thereof to be vacated forthwith and not reoccupied until the required repairs and improvements are completed, inspected and approved by the Property Maintenance Official.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])

1.                  Notice Served.  Such notice shall be served by sending by certified mail to the owner of record, according to Section 364.12[3h] of the Code of Iowa, if the owner is found within the City limits.  If the owner is not found within the City limits, such service may be made upon the owner by registered mail or certified mail.  The designated period within which said owner or person in charge is required to comply with the order of the Property Maintenance Official shall begin as of the date the owner receives such notice.

2.                  Hearing.  Such notice shall also advise the owner that he or she may request a hearing before the Council on the notice by filing a written request for hearing within the time provided in the notice.

145.10    CONDUCT OF HEARING.  If requested, the Council shall conduct a hearing in accordance with the following:

1.                  Notice.  The owner shall be served with written notice specifying the date, time and place of hearing.

2.                  Owner’s Rights. At the hearing, the owner may appear and show cause why the alleged nuisance shall not be abated.

3.                  Determination.  The Council shall make and record findings of fact and may issue such order as it deems appropriate.

145.11    POSTING OF SIGNS.  The Property Maintenance Official shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such building a notice to read:  “DO NOT ENTER.  UNSAFE TO OCCUPY.  CITY OF PRINCETON, IOWA.”  Such notice shall remain posted until the required repairs, demolition, or removal are completed.  Such notice shall not be removed without written permission of the Property Maintenance Official and no person shall enter the building except for the purpose of making the required repairs or of demolishing the building.

145.12    RIGHT TO DEMOLISH; MUNICIPAL INFRACTION.  In case the owner fails, neglects, or refuses to comply with the notice to repair, rehabilitate, or to demolish and remove the building or structure or portion thereof, the Council may order the owner of the building prosecuted as a violator of the provisions of this chapter and may order the Property Maintenance Official to proceed with the work specified in such notice.  A statement of the cost of such work shall be transmitted to the Council.  As an alternative to this action, the City may utilize the municipal infraction process to abate the nuisance.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])

145.13    COSTS.  Costs incurred under Section 145.12 shall be paid out of the City treasury.  Such costs shall be charged to the owner of the premises involved and levied as a special assessment against the land on which the building or structure is located, and shall be certified to the County Treasurer for collection in the manner provided for other taxes.  In addition, the City may take any other action deemed appropriate to recover costs incurred.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])



EDITOR’S NOTE:  Suggested forms of notice and of a resolution and order of the Council for the administration of this chapter are provided in the APPENDIX to this Code of Ordinances.  Caution is urged in the use of this procedure.  We recommend you review the situation with your attorney before initiating procedures and follow his or her recommendation carefully.