For property owners and landlords in the San Francisco Bay Area, dealing with a Notice of violation, or NOV can prove to be a headache. If you have been notified of a notice of Violation, what are your options? Today, we’ll take a look at how to resolve an NOV in two major Bay Area cities, San Francisco and Oakland.
What is a Notice of Violation?
First, let us begin by examining what exactly an NOV is. All building departments, including Oakland and San Francisco, utilize a system of building codes to ensure that both residential and commercial buildings are safe for human use and habitation. When a building is suspected of having issues regarding structural, code, habitability, or unpermitted work, citizens may file an anonymous complaint with the city. In San Francisco, the Department of Building Inspection handles such complaints. In Oakland, Code Enforcement Services handles these complaints. Each city government may choose how complaints are handled and enforced.
It is important to note that in each city, it is common for the public to report violations or concerns to their respective departments. Building departments are not equipped to actively scour the city for violations. Reporting systems have been implemented that allow concerned neighbours or tenants to report these issues directly and these reports are tracked in city systems to ensure compliance.
When a complaint has been made, the city will notify the owner and schedule an inspection. If the owner chooses not to cooperate, the city can use legal means to obtain access. If violations are found, the department will issue a formal notice to the property owner or place a copy of the notice of violation on the building itself. The notice will outline what the violation is, along with steps that must be taken to resolve the violation. It will then be up to the property owner to resolve the issue in a timely fashion.
Can I Appeal a Notice of Violation?
Yes, in Oakland when you are served with a Notice of Violation, you will also receive a Violation Appeal form. If you believe that your building or property is not in violation of any building codes, you may refute the violation at an appeal hearing. An independent hearing officer will be assigned to hear your appeal.
In San Francisco, an appeal can be made to the San Francisco Abatement Appeals Board. The board may hear the owner’s appeal and determine whether to uphold, modify, or reverse the violation.
Strict time limits are given for these infractions, and a prompt response is required whether you choose to appeal or not.
Is it Worth Appealing a Notice of Violation?
In many cases, it is often faster and less expensive to simply correct the issue that you were issued a violation for. Appealing the violation can be a lengthy process, and if there is little chance to overturn the ruling, then getting started on the process of correcting the violation is preferable.
At Edrington and Associates, we have a great degree of experience in advising property owners and landlords on building code violations. If you have been served with a building code violation, we can help you examine your case in detail and make a determination on whether an appeal is warranted or if you should resolve the issue.
What Penalties Can I Face If the Violation is Not Resolved?
In Oakland, a property owner typically has 30 days to begin correcting the violation from the time the notice is delivered. If the violation is not resolved within this time frame, fees may be imposed. If the same or similar violation is reported within one year, additional fees will be charged.
In San Francisco, citations may be issued for violations, which may require the payment of a bail fee. If the property owner refuses to correct the violation, an appearance in front of the Municipal Court of the City and County of San Francisco may be required. The maximum fine per building infraction is capped at $7,500. If unpermitted work is discovered permit fees can be increased by 10 times the normal amount.
Decided to Correct the Issue? Here’s What’s Next.
In San Francisco, the Department of Building Inspection will deliver a Director’s Order of Abatement. This order outlines the violation(s) along with the amount of time the property owner has to correct the issues, including applying for and receiving permits for the work needed. An assessment of costs, which outlines the costs associated with correcting the violation, will also be issued by the Department of Building Inspection. If the assessment of costs is not paid within the allotted time frame, a special assessment lien may be placed on the property.
In the city of Oakland, the notice of violation will include the list of corrections that must be made to resolve the violation.
Resolving a building code violation is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. If you have been served with an NOV by a local jurisdiction in the Bay Area, we highly recommend consulting with industry experts as soon as possible, so that you can take the right steps to resolve the violation. At Edrington and Associates, we offer decades of experience with building codes and inspections. Our expertise is at your disposal to help you resolve any violations timely and efficiently.