|Frequently Asked Questions: Code Enforcement
We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions that City staff receives about Code Enforcement. If you have any questions that this Web page doesn't answer, please feel free to contact us at (480) 782-4320 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
How may I file a complaint?
Complaints may be filed using any of the following methods:
- In person: Our office is located at 235 S. Arizona Avenue. Office hours are 8 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Telephone: Our telephone number is (480) 782-4320. Anyone wishing to speak with a staff person may call this number between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If the telephone line is already in use, you may leave your complaint information on the answering machine. Complaints may also be recorded at this same telephone number 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Are complainants required to identify themselves?
Complainants do not have to identify themselves; although if they would like an inspector to contact them regarding the status of the investigation, their name and daytime telephone number are necessary.
What are the enforcement procedures?
The City is divided into geographic areas with a Code Enforcement Inspector assigned to each one. Each inspector is responsible for violations occurring within their assigned area. Generally, the enforcement of codes occurs on both a reactive (complaint from a community source) and a proactive (initiated by the inspector) basis. There are however, a number of violations that are enforced after a complaint is received. These include Zoning Ordinance violations, and Nuisance Code violations occurring in enclosed rear yards. Our goal is to encourage both owners and tenants to voluntarily eliminate any violations that may exist so that Chandler remains a city in which we can be proud to live. When a code violation is reported, we open a complaint and work towards resolving the violation through a process of education, inspection, and notices. Continued violations are followed by progressive enforcement. Each code has its own set of enforcement procedures, however, the process generally follows this sequence:
- Complaint received
- Inspection conducted
- Notice left at residence or sent to violator allowing time for correction
- Re-inspection conducted
- Civil Citations issued if violation is not corrected
- Criminal prosecution filed if not corrected after citation
- Abate (violation removed by City contractor) and lien
What is the difference between Code Enforcement and a Homeowner’s Association?
Code Enforcement agencies are a function of many governments and are in place to ensure compliance with Ordinance requirements and adopted regulations related to land use, zoning, sign standards, public nuisance and health and housing codes. In the City of Chandler a primary objective is to educate Chandler residents and businesses about City Codes and requirements. Most codes and ordinances apply to every property within the City. Ultimately, the purpose is to ensure that all neighborhoods and properties are maintained protecting property values, and to promote the health, safety and welfare of Chandler residents.
Homeowner’s Associations are private organizations that are paid by designated neighborhoods to oversee their particular maintenance standards, as established by written Codes, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for the properties within specific neighborhood. The neighborhoods were designed to be managed by a Homeowner’s Association. Homeowner’s Associations have the right to enforce and assess fines to members in accordance to the Home Owners Association’s Codes, Covenants and Restrictions. Typically as part of the purchase process, each property owner within these designated neighborhoods signs documents agreeing to the standards that have been established and will abide by any penalties assessed.
A Homeowner’s Association may establish maintenance standards that require a higher standard of upkeep than the City Codes. Neighborhoods that are within Homeowner Association areas are still required to also abide by City Code requirements.
Code Enforcement staff enforce City Ordinances and Code Standards at all properties within the City of Chandler including those properties within a Homeowner’s Association area. However, a Homeowner’s Associations enforces maintenance standards within their designated neighborhood. HOA standards can be similar to City Code requirements or more restrictive. However, if an HOA requirement or standard is less restrictive than the City Code, the City’s Code requirement remains and is required to be met.
How do I know if I have a violation on my Property?
Code Enforcement has many methods of initiating contact. The standard enforcement tool is the “Notice to Comply.” This is a printed or hand written hard copy document that lists general common violations and detailed required corrective actions to resolve the complaint. The Code Inspector may add more detailed descriptions of the violation, or describe other violations not listed on the form. In most cases, Code Inspectors will try to make contact with occupants by knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. If there is no answer at the door, the notice is left at the front door. The same notice may also be mailed to the property in question or the address on file with the county assessor.
Another tool available is a door hanger, referred to as a “Sorry I Missed You.” This door hanger is used when an investigation is required and the violation or problem may not be clearly visible to the Inspector. The Inspector describes the possible problem on the door hanger. Additionally, the Inspector’s name and phone number will be listed with a request that you call within a specified time. Because the violation may not be clearly visible, and a complaint has been filed, the Code Inspector needs some method of letting the resident know that a possible violation may be on the property.
What happens if I have a violation?
Once it has a violation has been observed, it is the intent of Code Enforcement to have the resident/property owner come into voluntary compliance. To accomplish this, the resident is normally given 7 to 21 days to take whatever action is requested to correct the problem. On the scheduled compliance date, a follow-up inspection is conducted. If the violation is still on the property additional informal and formal steps may be used to gain compliance. For instance, an attempt to contact responsible party may be made in person or via telephone and a “Sorry I Missed You” note or business card may be left at the front door asking the resident to call the Inspector. It is also possible that a civil court process may be initiated.
What if the property is a rental?
For common violations, Code Enforcement will typically try to gain voluntarily compliance from either the resident of the property or the property owner. In the event the resident does not voluntarily comply, the Code Inspector will notify the owner of the property as recorded with the county assessor’s office. A formal Notice to Comply will be issued to the property owner.
What happens if the property does not come into compliance?
There are times when voluntary compliance is not achieved. When informal and formal efforts fail to get compliance, the Code Inspector will initiate an appropriate progressive enforcement step. Depending on the violation, this might include issuing a civil citation requiring the responsible party’s appearance in Municipal Court, an administrative or Court Abatement request or a request sent to the prosecutor for a criminal complaint.
What are the legal actions actions that might be taken?
Legal action can be started in several ways. The common method of legal action is a citation issued to the responsible party.
A longer method, for action to be started is the filing of a long form complaint with the City Prosecutor requesting that the City Prosecutor review the case to determine if there is enough evidence to go forward with issuing criminal charges. In the event the case proceeds, the responsible party will be issued a subpoena to appear in court. The normal court proceedings will occur.
Ultimately, the registered owner of the property is responsible to maintain the property in compliance. However, legal actions can be taken against any responsible party including property owners, occupants and property management representatives.
What are the most common violations that occur within the City?
Code Enforcement receives numerous complaints, covering a wide range of problems. The following is a listing of some of the most common complaints received.
- Parking on Unimproved Surfaces: City Code requires that all parking surfaces be a solid surface. Specifically the code states, “All parking surfaces shall be asphalt, concrete, or masonry.” Parking on the grass, dirt, crushed granite, or other type of rock does not meet the code requirements. Exceptions to this requirement might apply to properties developed prior to 1964.
- Uncultivated Vegetation, Weeds or Grass in excess of 6" in height: All premises within the City shall be maintained in a neat and attractive manner. The responsible person of any residence is responsible for maintaining the entire premises, including abutting public ways, up to the curb and up to the center of any abutting alleys free of debris, litter, trash and weeds. Six inches in height is the height standard for any uncontrolled vegetation.
- Fences and gates in disrepair: For the fence to serve its intended purpose, it must be maintained so the fence may screen, protect and secure.
- Right of Way Obstructions: The public streets, sidewalks and alleyways, must have clear accessibility to all who wish to use them. No plant, material, structure, fabrication, or vehicle may block the use of sidewalks or streets. This includes basketball standards, skateboard ramps, etc. Trees must be maintained 13-1/2 feet above the street or alleyway and 7 feet above the public sidewalk. Other plant material should not block or obstruct any portion of the public sidewalk.
The property owner is also responsible to ensure that any traffic control or directional sign that abuts their property is not obstructed from view by any plant, material, structure or fabrication.
- Green Swimming Pools: Especially with recent health concerns, green pools and ponds will be of special concern. All architectural pools, ponds, basins, fountains or any swimming pool or spa, or any body of water must be maintained and filtered to insure water does not become stagnate and become a health issue.
What can I do if I get a notice and do not understand the violation?
Call your inspector. The front lower portion of the notice contains the phone number of the issuing Code Inspector. Code Enforcement encourages you to call, not only if you have received a violation, but to answer any question you may have regarding your neighborhood. Code Enforcement is here to work with you to insure that our community will remain a highly valued place to reside. If you have further question, please call Code Enforcement at 480-782-4320.