Health Code Violations: Is Your Landlord Breaking the Law?

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A city health code is designed to protect residents from being injured or becoming ill because of unsafe or dirty buildings. Health codes encompass all types of potential problems, including pest control, waste removal, fixing mold problems and structural guidelines. If you think that your building is in violation of the city health codes, there are avenues you can pursue to fix the problem.

Types of Health Code Violations

There are two main types of health code violations: structural and maintenance. Structural problems include buildings that are not built or fixed in compliance with a city’s building codes. Because they are not in compliance, it is dangerous for these residences to be occupied as they may crumble or become unsafe at any moment. Indications that there are structural health code violations in your apartment include seriously cracked ceilings or walls, water stains that are not curbed and continue to grow on the ceiling, uneven floors and other similar problems.

Maintenance violations include those problems that are cause by pests or the landlord’s failure to keep the property in good working and inhabitable. For a property to be inhabitable, it must have running water, electricity and heat.

Indications that there are maintenance violations include:

  1. the presence of rodents or insects with no action taken against them by the landlord
  2. lack of garbage removal
  3. utilities not working despite payments being made
  4. failure to keep the exterior of the property safe through snow removal and similar measures

Starting Action to Fix the Violations

Prior to contacting your city’s health department or beginning a court case against the landlord, you should gather information on the types of violations you see occurring, how often they occur, whether you speak to the landlord about the need to fix the problem and whether the landlord takes any action against the problem. Take notes that include all of this information. Also, you should include whether you were prevented from living in the apartment or were injured from the perceived health code violations.

You do not need to worry about the presentation of your notes, but only make certain that they contain all pertinent information such as the date and time of violations, how long the violation lasted and the information discussed above. Also write down the date, time and topic of any phone calls between yourself and the landlord or other residents that are also experiencing problems. These notes will be sufficient to show to the city if you must subsequently notify them of potential violations.

Legal Aspects of Rectifying Health Code Violations

Typically, as the health codes are administered by a city’s health department, notifying the department of perceived violations and providing them with copies of your notes will be sufficient to get them involved. If, after investigating the complaints, the city finds that violations of the health code have occurred, they will then order that the problems be fixed and levy a fine for the violations.

However, if you are physically injured or must vacate your residence because of the violations, you may have cause for a court action against the landlord. In this instance, make sure to again take thorough notes to use as evidence. You may want to hire an attorney to represent you in court.

14 Responses to “Health Code Violations: Is Your Landlord Breaking the Law?”

  1. November 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm, dave wolfarth said:

    violations, the last week i lived in motel 6 on federal and I 70 in denver colorado, since i am serv safe and tips trained to 2013 respectivley, the motel 6 had the floowing health code violation, room 129 had a crack in the door and cold was coming staight in, no knobs on the heater the tub had no drain plug, the tv remote didnt work and it smell and it was nasty, i cleaned every thing up. plus on thanksgiving eve i was locked in for 20 minutes cause the lady at the desk was to busy with her boyfriend then helping me out. 3 phone calls. then i got moved into 128 and the property manager said here u go, moving everything in the cold with my 13 year dog ws not cooled, once i am in the room the carpet from the bed to the bathroom was saoking wet and not cold water only hot,, boy that was no good, i trip on the towels that where on the floor and hit my head on the dresser. a slight concussion. A friend help me pay for a weeks room on 72 n pecos valli -hi motel, this room is so bad, i had to clean all walls and floors base boards the bathroom was so nasty it took me a long time to clean it. when i ask for a shoer curtin this morning at 8am and now its 5:27 still nothing.. the ceiling is so gross i ask for a ladder, they said no. I have all the pictures for both rooms, I have emailed lawyers CNN four tv networks and still nothing. i am avout to call motel 6 executives and give them a piece of my mind
    david wolfarth-720-231-0562


  2. May 14, 2011 at 12:51 am, Bonita Barbee said:

    The entire apartment is falling apart! The front porch has dropped 3-4 inches from the front door. There are areas in the bathroom and kitchen you can feel the floor sink when you step on it. The drains, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bathtub, toilet, drain slowly if not at all without help. Our landlord, Mike Routson, sends people out for quick fixes. It’s been very embaressing when friends or family come here. On top of that, the apartment next door, we have their breaker box in our closet! And, there is a cesspool of.. smells like sewage in the drainage ditch by the road! We have to close our front door sometimes, it’s so strong!


  3. June 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm, Anonymous said:

    Safer under a interstate bridge in tampa florida.


  4. October 20, 2012 at 2:12 am, Kathy said:

    I have read all of the comments and I still can’t believe that problems exist and the landlord who takes your money every month won’t do anything about any of it. I am going through just about the same thing. The ceilings, walls, and floor boards are all affected by water damage. The floor boards that go around, are all either covered with musty stuff or mold. I think it is mold. The walls have these bubble lookings things creeping and growing on the walls and the ceilings are all covered with water marks. I have had problems with flooding in the bedroom, the closet, living room and dining room. When I moved into this apartment, I was told that if I didn’t move from the 9th floor, that I was keeping them from being compliant with a code. (I don’t know which one.) Every year, when it comes time to renew the lease, we never get our leases on time. I should have gotten mine August 1, 2012, still don’t have it, but there was a rent increase from 545.00 to 615.00, they sure made sure that the rent increase was on time. The inside of the apartments are in such bad shape. The only reason I have stayed is because the VA is across the street, so convenience I guess would be the major factor. These people are so rude and always with bad attitudes. I don’t understand how the owners can make all these repairs and improvements to the building but do absolutely nothing for people with disabilities. they replaced the front entrance doors, the only ones, they didn’t do anything with the rest of them, but they have gone to me and some others with disabilities, having a real hard time getting in and out of them.


  5. April 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm, Sheila said:

    In regards to The Fountains / Landmark Residential, in Palm Beach Gardens Florida.

    The railing on the outside is loose, the steps have loose bricks, the wall in my room had or might still have mold. When wall was opened there was a vent from the person living next door going into my room, the vent is causing the mold and i was asked if i wanted to keep it open, which to me is stealing the neighbors air conditioning. Also, my water heater makes a loud bubbling sounds almost all day which hasn’t been fixed since I moved in 11 months ago. This place is dangerous for small kids!!!!


  6. May 08, 2013 at 1:36 pm, willie j. murphy said:

    I am living in a three story rooming house that have uneven floors, over half of the windows do not lock, and the manager Roberts have a bad gambling and tricking with sick, drug addicted women addictions. He stole $20 from my wallet. I called Mr. Stephen Topel (410)8047969, but the problem continue to escalate. Mr. Roberts do not have a license, but do major, insufficient-very poor quality-work on many homes. Since informing Mr. Topel of his Manager Roberts, Mr. Roberts continue to attempt to provoke me. I also fear that They may plant contraband in my room to have me arrested. This area that I’m in is very high in crime. Please help me before it is too late.


  7. May 10, 2013 at 4:04 am, Donna said:

    We have a huge hole in our ceiling and it rains inside. The ceiling actually fell in at one point. The rest of the room is cracks and bubbles. The landlord has known about this for about a year and hasn’t done anything. We have called multiple times sent him pictures and he doesn’t care. He never pays the trashnon time right now we have a balcony full of trash because there’s no where else to put it. We have no other money for a down payment anywhere else and we know he will kick us out if we call the health department. I’m not sure what to do.


  8. May 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm, W.B said:

    we live a apt tht is u could say to the point its so old tht the floors r weak on the second floor theirs small kids tht live on second floor tht can fit thru the rails on the on the balcony / walkway the rails for the stairs r not in mch better condition with not being replaced or fixed properly wiring is so old laundry room is not better neither is the pool on cleanliness but still trying to find answers out on how to get sumone to come out and look at the conditions of these places let alone the person who works the office is giving friends a lower rate on a apt thn others have which is not right for those tht have been here longer so basically its a slum but i see where this place might end up being where a child might get hurt


  9. June 17, 2013 at 9:10 am, Chelsea Marie said:

    My landlord replaced all the toilets in our building recently. The toilets replaced were from 1973. The workers hired for this did not laying anything on the ground and old toilet water got all over the hallway carpets. They placed them on our front lawn a lot were broken. There is a funny smell throughout our building and you can see stains from where the old toilets were deaged and our stairs covered in brown liquid. Unfortunately when we informed of the upcoming construction we were unaware of the toilets being replaced so many people didn’t clean them . Is it my landlords responsibility to clean the sewage and toilet water from the building and stairs and is this a health code violation?


  10. September 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm, Jeneel said:

    I lived in this apartment complex for about 9 months. The first apartment I was set to lived in was infested with roaches. I kept calling the office to schedule for pest control. They did more than 3 treatments and I still kept seeing roaches! They moved us to another apartment. Again I still see roaches but not as much! But recently I just found out we got BED BUGS! We got 2 treatments done and today was the last one, but the pest control didn’t come! I still see bugs! What do I do from here. I have a NEW BORN & a 18 month old. I stayed at my moms for a week because I don’t want my babies getting bite by bed bugs! We have to stay in our living room on the coaches! What do I do from here! :(


  11. January 15, 2014 at 5:48 pm, Ashley Campbell said:

    I live in Savannah Lakes it is disgusting. We have mold and a gigantic hole on the outside of our apartment leading into the inside of our apartment. Our washer and dryer unit is currently blocking the hole on the inside. A neighbor complained that there was a leak in their apartment about 4 months ago, and that is when the maintenance team created this hole. Again this was 4 months ago. Still to this day it has not been repaired. I do have pictures and have put in multiple maintenance requests. I am beyond disgusted. Not sure what to do from here. They keep promising “they are remolding” and someone will be out to fix it in a couple weeks, however this promise was made 3 and a half months ago. I have pictures and there is also mold starting to build up on the outside. I am located in Florida. This is a health code violation correct?


  12. February 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm, Ray said:

    Since day one we were informed by the landlord that they still had little jobs to fix. Trim was taken off, register vents all gone, outlet covers missing, outlets that don’t work, broken windows, & no key for my front door! Since there is no trim, I have a gap between my wall & floor. No register vents just holes exposing duct work. Still missing outlet covers here & there. Leaky faucet water bill runs $40 more now a month, oven broken. Still no key for the front door. No railings on the front porch with a crumbling step. A family member fell on & chipped their knee bone. Mold in my bathroom & around windows. I have a plexi-glass window that pops out & had to hot glue back. Roof is way over due, just waiting for leakage. Also, have an unstable garage & shed that’s rotting! Did I mention all these repairs have been talked about for over 18months and was asked to leave when repair men came to just give an estimate 4 months ago?? No repairs to this day, & was told the oven is our problem even though it was furnished by the landlord. Not to forget I have no vent over my oven either.. this is not ok!!


  13. February 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm, alisha graham said:

    This apt I live in in louisville ohio is not right for people or any little one there is black mood growing in the bathroom and the carpret in the livingroom is bad by the end of the night our feet are black. The floor in the kitchen is coming up and the same thing the bathroom are the same away. The door away in the livingroom and in the kitchen have hole in it. The window in the living room lick air we have to put stuff over the windows bring the winter.


  14. February 28, 2014 at 9:57 am, Concerned said:

    I also have issues….. We live in a apartment complex. There are several apartments that have severe black mold issues. They try to just clean it or paint over it and that don’t work. Walls have been taken down and found out that it is in the walls through out every apartment. Water pipes have leaked in the interior walls leaving mold in the inner walls. Cabinets and counters have separated from walls. There is cracks in ceilings and walls. Balcony’s are not safe for little children. Upper floors are weak. Electrical and sewage Im almost certain are not up to code. Foundations cracked. Stairwell banisters are loose. Owner don’t want to fix correctly and does a quick fix because if they don’t notice issues than its not their concern. Tired of landlords that want to be slumlords, they need to think of their residents as more than just their paycheck. We need ppl who are gonna be caring and concerned about health, safety ect. of the residents!!!!!!!!!!


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