Inventive ways to catch unpermitted work

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M4gery

Senior Member
The inspector asked where the card was. That card is supposed to be displayed outside. The inspector was giving the HO the benefit of the doubt by asking why there was no card outside.

The inspector could have just simply levied a fine and issued a stop order without even talking to the owner.

I don't see this as a search warrant issue, but the HO could have stopped the inspector from coming into the home without one. HO still would have got fined and a stop order issued either way.
Fined for what?
 

adelle

Member
Building departments in California trump the Constitution?
I'm not a lawyer but I don't think ANYONE has the right to enter a residence without a warrant or evidence of an immediate life threatening situation. A public accessable commercial building may be different.

And with the backlog of crime in any major city like LA, I doubt the DAs office or a judge has anytime to issue a warrant for somebody's unpermitted kitched remodel.

Any building inspector going before a judge for something like that is probably going to get his butt chewed!
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Building departments in California trump the Constitution?
No, of course, one can refuse, but that won't stop a legal process. I guess, in retrospect, a warrant could be a result.

One could always claim there's nothing going on that requires a permit, but a bit of surveillance could dispute that.

I can't imagine them saying "Well, he won't let us in or produce a permit, so I guess we're powerless to do anything."
 

Mgraw

Senior Member
You sure can buy furnaces at HD. Willamson is the brand they sell.

You won't see brands like Trane sold there because they will only sell to companies that will service what they sell. I can walk right into Bishop Heating in my town and buy any Trane furnace or A/C unit I have the money for. No permit needed. I can get any furnace and A/C part there as well.

Lobbying has nothing to do with it.
Here HD sells Trane, but they are installed by "HD Authorized Installers".
 

M4gery

Senior Member
Doing unpermitted work.

Of course the HO would be cited first, then fined.

I guess a better choice of words would have been cited.
In the story we were discussing, you said that the inspector was doing the homeowner a favor by trespassing and searching the home without a warrant, he was doing that favor instead of just writing up a fine.

My question is what would he fine (or "cite") the homeowner for if he didn't conduct the illegal search? A dumpster is not proof of illegal activity, as discussed earlier in this thread.
 

satcom

Senior Member
In the story we were discussing, you said that the inspector was doing the homeowner a favor by trespassing and searching the home without a warrant, he was doing that favor instead of just writing up a fine.

My question is what would he fine (or "cite") the homeowner for if he didn't conduct the illegal search? A dumpster is not proof of illegal activity, as discussed earlier in this thread.
Every city around here requires a permit to have a dumpster on your property, simple you have a dumpster and no permit, your illegal, in some cases.
Just this morning the police were down the street watching a crew load a truck, the address they were unloading from did not have a moving permit, the officers waited until the crew loaded the the truck then asked the driver for the moving permit, he din't have one, they called a impound truck and took all the owners property to the impound, they will be fined for not geting a permit, and then pay for the cost of impound, and the still have to pay for a permit.

I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON!
 

M4gery

Senior Member
Every city around here requires a permit to have a dumpster on your property, simple you have a dumpster and no permit, your illegal, in some cases.
Which will allow the city to fine the homeowner for not having a permit required for the dumpster. It will NOT allow the authorities to search the house nor will it allow the authorities to fine for not having permits for work that might be going on inside the house.
Just this morning the police were down the street watching a crew load a truck, the address they were unloading from did not have a moving permit, the officers waited until the crew loaded the the truck then asked the driver for the moving permit, he din't have one, they called a impound truck and took all the owners property to the impound, they will be fined for not geting a permit, and then pay for the cost of impound, and the still have to pay for a permit.

I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON!
You are speaking of a "moving permit" and the police saw the act of moving going on outside, this is a big difference.

Here is something from another thread discussing the city looking for unpermitted work:
RICK NAPIER said:
In NJ I have seen this handled different ways from ignoring the issue to generally more proffessional method of checking out the accussation. Personnally and most towns I have worked in when a complaint like this is heard send someone out to the property to see if work was done without a permit. We have no right of entry so if the work can't be seen from a public way, from a neighbor's property with the neighbors permission or identified from the street to the front door of the property we are out of luck unless the owner agrees to let us in and admits to the work.

Last week a contractor informed us of work at a property without permits. I could see the sheetrock in the driveway but not any of the work done. I went to the culdesac behind the property and could see a new enclosed porch and service. The amount of work alleged is well beyound this but this was enough for my department to send out a Notice of Violation with a $2000 penalty and the threat of $2000 per week until permits are issued.

I always respond to an allegation of work without permits. Sometimes we can't prove it. I have also seen the ploy of asking for a wriiten complaint used to quell the ardor of neighbors who doen't get along and call any time a service call to the property happens.
 
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nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
Every city around here requires a permit to have a dumpster on your property, simple you have a dumpster and no permit, your illegal, in some cases.
Just this morning the police were down the street watching a crew load a truck, the address they were unloading from did not have a moving permit, the officers waited until the crew loaded the the truck then asked the driver for the moving permit, he din't have one, they called a impound truck and took all the owners property to the impound, they will be fined for not geting a permit, and then pay for the cost of impound, and the still have to pay for a permit.

I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON!
Are you telling me you live in a place that requires a permit to move out of your house??


I feel that is DISGUSTING. You live in a horrible place.

Or do you mean a permit to move the dumpster? Still rediculious.

Permits for dumpster is not required here. The inspectors in this area (formally I was one) know their limitations and don't trespass or vindictively persue potential residential HO not getting permits.

The stories many people have posted here scare and disgust me ( not the person the facts)
 
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satcom

Senior Member
Are you telling me you live in a place that requires a permit to move out of your house??


I feel that is DISGUSTING. You live in a horrible place.

Or do you mean a permit to move the dumpster? Still rediculious.

Permits for dumpster is not required here. The inspectors in this area (formally I was one) know their limitations and don't trespass or vindictively persue potential residential HO not getting permits.

The stories many people have posted here scare and disgust me ( not the person the facts)
Without requiring a permit to move, anyone could just pack up and leave town, without paying their bills, violating the right of someone else, to collect what is owed.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Without requiring a permit to move, anyone could just pack up and leave town, without paying their bills, violating the right of someone else, to collect what is owed.
Sounds like a nanny state there, If someone wanted to break laws by not paying their bills, they are not going to worry about breaking the law by not getting a permit to move, they would just move in the middle of the night. This is saying your guilty until proven innocent (by getting the permit).
 

nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
Without requiring a permit to move, anyone could just pack up and leave town, without paying their bills, violating the right of someone else, to collect what is owed.
What?

Paying what bills??

Do you find this to be ok?

That makes no sense. I could just leave town and never pay any bill.

If it's a tax or water bill, they just
Put a lien on the property. Personal
Bills like private utility are not the business of the city. If the private company want to take you to court for not paying bills, so be it.

Do I need a permit to leave town for 6 months and then return.

My head is spinning, this scares me. Who would live under those rules?

Do you have elections there, or do they just tell you who is in charge?
 

satcom

Senior Member
What?

Paying what bills??

Do you find this to be ok?

That makes no sense. I could just leave town and never pay any bill.

If it's a tax or water bill, they just
Put a lien on the property. Personal
Bills like private utility are not the business of the city. If the private company want to take you to court for not paying bills, so be it.

Do I need a permit to leave town for 6 months and then return.

My head is spinning, this scares me. Who would live under those rules?

Do you have elections there, or do they just tell you who is in charge?
The moving permits may cover many things, from the parking space for the Moving Van and any traffic control needed for the move day, to a check that all payments have been satified to a landlord, or in some cases, as our town, the town owned utility bills are paid up, moving permits are required in many towns and cities, and each city, has it's own set of laws on what applies to a moving permit.
 

nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
The moving permits may cover many things, from the parking space for the Moving Van and any traffic control needed for the move day, to a check that all payments have been satified to a landlord, or in some cases, as our town, the town owned utility bills are paid up, moving permits are required in many towns and cities, and each city, has it's own set of laws on what applies to a moving permit.
May I ask what city or county this takes place in?
.

I've never heard of it in MA, ME or NH, and I realize that every state/city is not the same.

I am a landlord myself and see the benefit, but would not want that to be the law. If they don't have money to pay me, keeping them there wont help. I need them OUT, so I can rent to someone with money. As we all know, the government is first in line, they get there $ and I would be second.

I know this is completely off topic but, if I want to move, I just move. No paperwork. I understand that you are responsible for your bills, and people run out on them all the time. We all know what that is like as contractors.

It sounds like the government trying to enforce collections of funds. Its virtually impossible to make someone pay you, without a court order. And even then a civil judgment doesn't guarantee payment, you still have to collect.

Am I off base here?

Let me get back on topic.

Example: I do a resi remodel. They do not pay me the final payment, say $3000.00. The final inspection was to trigger the payment. I get it inspected and then....no money.

Now, let's say it gets to court and I get a Lien on the property. Now the homeowner tries to and rent the place. Let's agree that this is compliant with zoning, they get a permit to "move," and the lien is noticed by the moving permit folks. Is the government going to literally confine the owners to living in that house until I pay? Of course not, and its impossible to tell someone where to live in this case.



How is that not the same?
 

M4gery

Senior Member
Without requiring a permit to move, anyone could just pack up and leave town, without paying their bills, violating the right of someone else, to collect what is owed.
Where do you live? I have never heard of this before.
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
I'm not a lawyer but I don't think ANYONE has the right to enter a residence without a warrant or evidence of an immediate life threatening situation. A public accessable commercial building may be different.

And with the backlog of crime in any major city like LA, I doubt the DAs office or a judge has anytime to issue a warrant for somebody's unpermitted kitched remodel.

Any building inspector going before a judge for something like that is probably going to get his butt chewed!

Why would an inspector need a warrant? If he knows that a remodeling project is going on and you won't let him in to inspect for safety then all he needs to do is call an get your utilities shut off.

Without utilities you are not allowed to live on the property and can be evicted.

The connection of utilities requires the approval of the AHJ. If it's believed there can be a danger that approval can be withdrawn.
 

M4gery

Senior Member
Why would an inspector need a warrant? If he knows that a remodeling project is going on and you won't let him in to inspect for safety then all he needs to do is call an get your utilities shut off.

Without utilities you are not allowed to live on the property and can be evicted.

The connection of utilities requires the approval of the AHJ. If it's believed there can be a danger that approval can be withdrawn.
How would he know that unpermitted work is going on?

An inspector can't just have utilities shut off and throw a family out on the street because he thinks they demoed a wall.

I think this sums it up well from someone who is position to do what is suggested:
Rick Napier said:
We have no right of entry so if the work can't be seen from a public way, from a neighbor's property with the neighbors permission or identified from the street to the front door of the property we are out of luck unless the owner agrees to let us in and admits to the work.
 

nhfire77

Senior Member
Location
NH
Why would an inspector need a warrant? If he knows that a remodeling project is going on and you won't let him in to inspect for safety then all he needs to do is call an get your utilities shut off.

Without utilities you are not allowed to live on the property and can be evicted.

The connection of utilities requires the approval of the AHJ. If it's believed there can be a danger that approval can be withdrawn.

Unless the inspector(AHJ) can meet the burden of proof for an administrative warrant, no one is shutting off anything. No judge will sign a warrant based on here say or a hunch to an electrical inspector. You would need to provide pictures and sworn statements. Then, you would get an administrative warrant for inspection. Then you would have to gather evidence and proove that the work was done illegally.

No utility will just shut off power either. In MA September 1 to April 1 you cannot disconnect. If there is a life support device on the premises, no one is shutting of anything.

Now maybe where you are the POCO will just disconnect whenever the AHJ demands it, but if he/she is wrong or cannot reach the burden of proof nececcary in court, they will get sued. And the POCO and...and...and...

The power to condemn a building is not based on electric service. To condemn it you would have to get a warrant to enter the property. And again, very few AHJ's are willing to do so, the probable cause threshold is very hard to reach for an adminstrative warrant. Just a "hunch" will not do.

Its reckless behavior to just shut off electric service, without that probable cause.
 

Rick Christopherson

Senior Member
No, of course, one can refuse, but that won't stop a legal process.
Yes, it most certainly does halt the legal process. The instant the inspector steps beyond the door, everything he sees is inadmissible in any legal process, which includes issuing a citation or stop order. Yes, he can issue a citation, but it wouldn't be worth the paper it is written on if the homeowner contests it.

The same laws that pertain to illegal search and seizure by the police apply to all government bodies. An individual inspector may think he/she has some authority, but they do not. If they believe they have probable cause to enter the premises, they can do so, but if the homeowner contests it, only a court can decide if the search is legal. If the search is not legal, any evidence gained cannot be used to support a citation. The presence of a dumpster may or may not constitute sufficient grounds to enter, but to automatically assume that is does would be wrong.

Not all remodeling work requires a permit. For example, in my area, a permit would not be required to renovate a kitchen with new cabinets. A permit is not required for roofing and siding, even though these jobs require a dumpster (no permit is required for the dumpster either). Finishing off a family room does not require a permit, as long as the electrical, plumbing, or framing are not affected. By the way, in my area, the homeowner can pull their own electrical permit for any work including an addition, but not including new construction.

In some states, including my own, the inspector that walked into a private residence could find himself placed under citizen's arrest for trespass. Believe it or not, a police officer cannot arrest someone for simple trespass, but a private citizen can. Furthermore, if he resists, I have the legal right to use necessary force to subdue him (not that this would be wise). (I researched these statutes last year because I dirtbike on private corporation land, and wanted to find out how much trouble I could get into if we got caught.)
 
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