Am I liable for bogus building code violation, and can we sue for harassment?

Asked about 1 year ago - Palm Harbor, FL

My wife and I purchased our house June 24th 2013. We received a letter from the building department this year (3 years later) that we had installed a garage door without a permit on July 9th 2010. They are telling us we have to pull a permit and/or pay a fine. We never installed a new garage door since owning the home. When trying to fight this they are providing no proof that this was done and are saying that if they have it on file as a violation there is nothing I can do and I need to fix this. Is there anyway to get them to leave me alone or get this to go away? We are feeling bullied and there is no one in the department willing to help. If they continue to send me letters to comply without proof, can I sue for harassment?

Additional information

I had a typo. We purchased the house June 24th 2010, not 2013

Attorney answers (2)

  1. David P Fraser

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . I recently was involved in a county coding dispute. One of two things have happened. First, the county is wrong and no garage door was ever installed without the proper permit. You can make this point at a hearing they will set and they have to prove it was installed without a permit. You will be responsible for the costs and fees of this hearing should you lose. The second possibility is that the previous owner installed a garage door that was not coded properly. The liability for a code violation is on the present owner regardless of who actually initiated the violation. (for most counties) You will have to go to the county building department office and apply for the garage door permit. Once that is approved you will need to schedule the proper inspections. Inspections for a garage door may include electrical, structural and several others, but the building department will let you know. You then have to pay for and schedule the inspections. Once the inspections are completed you can apply for a certificate of occupancy. (if one is needed for a garage door, the county will tell you). As far as the letters, they are not harassment.

    The information provided is not legal advice and no attorney client relationship will arise based upon this... more
  2. Golnar Sargeant

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . It is not harassment for a city/govt office to send you letters and notices about a potential violation, no matter how frequent. If the garage door was required to have a permit and did not, then you need to comply--it does not matter to them that you did not install it. You may have rights against the previous owner, but as between you and the city, it won't matter. If you feel strongly that you want to fight, enough to pay attorneys fees, then consult with a local attorney. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "proof"--they usually have specifications in the codes stating what types of things a permit is needed for, if your garage door fits those parameters, then they're going to send out the notices. There's no "proof" really, unless they are to come to your door and measure the garage door--but I don't know how that helps you.

    We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute... more

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Building codes for real estate

Building codes are government rules on how buildings must be designed, constructed and maintained to ensure the safety of people living or working in them.

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