Code Enforcement

Purpose
The purpose of the Department of Housing/Code Enforcement is to protect the public health, safety and welfare in existing buildings used for dwelling purposes. The department administrates and enforces sections of the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances. These ordinances regulate:

Filing a Complaint or report a possible violation of ordinances

  • Storage of inoperable or abandoned vehicles on public and private property
  • Minimum housing standards for existing dwellings, and environmental conditions which may contribute to deterioration in the community
  • Abandoned commercial structures, which may contribute to deterioration in the community

Some of the common complaints reported by citizens include abandoned houses and vehicles, structural defects in dwellings, and appliances or junk stored on property.

Concerned citizens are encouraged to telephone the Mayor's Citizen Service Center at 636-6500 to file a complaint. The Department of Housing/Code Enforcement can also be contacted at 636-7380 to file a complaint regarding unsafe housing conditions or inoperable vehicles.

Compliance
Potential violations are discovered through citizen complaints, referrals from other agencies, inspector observations in an assigned area and systematic inspections in a target area. Once a complaint is received, an inspector will conduct an investigation to determine if there is an ordinance violation. If there is a violation, the inspector may notify the owner verbally or in writing. When there are numerous violations, the owner is mailed a list of violations, and a "Notice of Hearing".

After a violation order is issued for structural or environmental conditions, periodic follow-up inspections are conducted to determine if compliance has been met. The owner may telephone the Department of Housing/Code Enforcement at 636-7380 to discuss the needed repairs and arrange a plan of action to meet compliance. Follow-up inspections are done to determine if compliance has been met. Depending on the circumstances and severity, the department can opt to:
  • Give an extension to meet compliance
  • Court action
  • Issue an order to vacate the premises
  • Issue an order not to occupy until repairs are made
  • Condemnation

Should the owner fail to comply, court action can be initiated at any time after the first follow-up inspection. The department utilizes the General Sessions Environmental Court to resolve cases where the violator has voluntarily failed to comply.
Search for a Case

Condemnation
In some situations, the inspector may refer dangerous structures to the Condemnation Coordinator. The condemnation procedures begin with a title search. Once the title search is done, all appropriate parties are notified by the "First Notice" of condemnation by certified mail that the structure must be repaired or demolished. If this order is not complied with, all appropriate parties are notified by certified mail that a condemnation hearing will be held by the Public Services & Neighborhoods Director. At this time, parties may petition the Director for an extension to make repairs. Upon the Director condemning the structure, all interested parties are notified by certified mail that they have 10 calendar days to demolish the structure or the City will proceed to do so. If the property is demolished by the City, the amount of the demolition is assessed against the property taxes where the structure was located.

The owner may apply for an Abandoned Structure Program (ASP) waiver during the compliance or condemnation process by calling the Department of Housing/Code Enforcement. The owner is advised that the application is subject to the availability of ASP funds and the approval of the Public Services & Neighborhoods Director.

Abandoned Vehicles
When a violation order is issued for an inoperable vehicle, a follow-up inspection is conducted in 12 calendar days. If the owner fails to repair, remove or place the vehicle in a lawful storage place after 12 calendar days, the vehicle may be impounded in the City storage lot or legal action can be taken. Impounded vehicles may be reclaimed from the City of Memphis Vehicle storage lot (353-8200) by paying the towing and storage fees.
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