With summer coming to an end and winter not far away, Magna code enforcement officer Tom Zumbado takes a chance on answering questions from citizens about code enforcement, municipal ordinances, and everything in between. For a chance to have your question published in this column, email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the words “Ask a Codie” in the subject line. All submissions will be kept anonymous, cross our hearts.
This month, “Get Off My Lawn” writes:
Are you allowed to enter private property without the homeowner being present?
Wow, we get this question a lot. We suppose the short answer would be “Yes, and no.” The longer answer is way more complicated. There are ordinances on the books that allow service providers to enter your property provided that they are there for a specific task. These are the same kind of laws that protect mail carriers, gas meter readers, Rocky Mountain Power employees and the like. For code enforcement, the municipal ordinance that governs our access on to private property is Chapter 19.94.020.B, which reads:
“The director shall enforce all of the provisions of this title, employing all legal means available to do so. In the enforcement of this title, the director or any employee of the division authorized to represent the director shall have the right to enter any building for the purpose of determining the use thereof or to enter the premises for the purpose of determining compliance with the provisions of this title, provided that such right of entry shall be exercised only at reasonable hours and that in no case shall entry be made to any occupied building in the absence of the owner or tenant thereof without the written order of a court of competent jurisdiction.”
So to put it plainly, the ordinance allows us to access the outside areas of a property (front yard and backyard) and not just barge into someone’s house. The last thing we want is to do is to scare anybody, so we usually try to announce ourselves before beginning any of the inspections. Cooperation brings compliance; it’s all about making the customer comfortable with our presence. (And yeah, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a UPD escort as well. You know, to keep everyone honest. 😉 Hope this helps. Be safe.