Can You Sell a Home that Has Code Violations?


Code enforcement is usually adopted by communities to preserve the cleanliness, safety, and the property values of their municipality. The violation of these building codes can range from serious things such as breaching the construction standards to minor things like broken fire alarms. Often, code violations are taken care of before a house is sold, and the buyer is never aware of them.

Code enforcements change all the time, a house may be code-compliant when you buy it; but over the years, it may lag behind the ever-changing building standards. Unless there is a safety issue, many homeowners do not bother to bring their homes up to code.

Homeowners adding more living space to their home without the proper permission, is probably the most common building code violation. Others include the absence of fire alarms, installing electrical points and water heaters without a permit, failure to use a non-flame roofing material, and more.

Once a home exchanges hands, the buyer inherits the code violations along with it. As a seller, prospective buyers want you to provide them with honest, clear, as well as marketable titles. This means that very few buyers will buy a home with open building violations, fines, and liens.

Even though selling a house with building code violations is a daunting task, it is not impossible! As a code enforcement measure, most of the municipalities in the country levy regular fines and interest rates which may accrue over the years. When the home is sold, these penalties will be transferred to the buyer. Moreover, when code enforcement officers visit the home, the current homeowner will be required to fix the problems and bring the home up to code.

Can you keep quiet about the building code violations? 

No, you definitely can’t! The law requires sellers to disclose all the information about a property to potential buyers. You, therefore, have the duty to notify the buyers about structural problems, health problems, defects with the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and other known building code violations.

If you close a deal without these necessary disclosures, you are bound to face a lot of legal issues in future. At the very least, you will have to compensate the buyer for the breach of contract and financial loss.

How can you fix code violations? 

If you notice that your home has open code violations and related fines, you should contact your area’s code enforcement officer as soon as possible. Often, these code enforcement officers are willing to advise and work with sellers to fix the problems at hand. You can even negotiate the sanction down to a reasonable amount.

Also, you can hire a professional contractor to close any open code violations in your home. Even though you’ll have to pay off the fines and for corrective work, once the work is done you can confidently list your house for sale.

If the corrective work is way beyond your budget, some real estate companies may buy the home and deal with the code violations themselves. However, these real estate investors will expect a huge discount on your price to compensate for fixing the violation and paying off the penalties.

Don’t be caught up on the wrong side of the law! Let our expert and experienced building inspectors from Arnold Investigative Engineering examine your home and bring to light any hidden building code violations.


Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.