January 18

Your Complete Guide to Austin Code Violations (and How to Avoid Them)

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Trying to get your property to adhere to local building codes can feel like a juggling act: lose focus for even a second, and it all comes crashing down around you. After all, struggling with fees ranging in the thousands of dollars on severe offenses is no laughing matter. 

So, now you’re stuck with a dilemma. How do you parse through all this legalese to find out what you need to adhere to? And what’s more, how do you prevent these from affecting you?

Well, we’re glad you asked. It’s time to take a look at our guide to Austin code violations and how to avoid them! So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Austin Code Violations in the Outdoors

One frequent code violation that property owners run into is failing to keep the height of the grass on their property in check. If it exceeds 12 inches in height, it’s in violation. This is because tall grass and weeds are perfect habitats for harmful animals like mosquitos and mice to propagate and spread disease. 

You also need to watch out for any trees on your property that extend into the road. If there is not a 14-foot of distance between the tree branch and the curbside, you’re at risk of violation consequences. 

Another factor to consider is if your home contains a swimming pool. First, you must maintain the pool so that the water doesn’t grow stagnant and become a breeding ground for insects, parasites, and bacterial diseases.

Also, you need to enclose your pool with a fence that meets the standards set by the government of the city of Austin. This means the fence needs to be a maximum of 8 feet in height and stay in a well-maintained condition. The fence can also not obstruct a major pathway (like a road) in any way.

These restrictions also extend to any other form of fence you have on your property. The stagnant water rules that apply to the pool apply to any other artificial collection of water on your property (a well, fountain, etc.) as well. If you do end up with stagnant water, you need to dispose of it.

The Outdoor Limitations Continue

It’s also important to note that there are restrictions on what you can store outside your house in the open. Open trash, animal remains, or any material deemed “unsightly” by officials that get found stored in the open are subject to instant removal and fines. 

This rule applies even if you are not the person placing trash there to begin with. While the local government will force caught offenders to clean up their mess, the responsibility falls on you while no culprit exists. 

Signage is also a big issue with property codes. Any signs on your property cannot obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic, and you’re not allowed to post signs on other people’s property without their permission. In the event that the owner of the property is unknown, assume it belongs to the government of Austin. 

Finally, it’s critical that you bring all your garbage cans back to your property at the correct time. Placing them out before 8 pm one day before the trash truck comes is also in violation of Austin codes. 

Indoor and Business Limitations

As for the basic structure of your home, it must meet all safety standards set by the city of Austin. In the event that your home gets damaged by a fire or natural disaster, an inspector from the state needs to come and verify that your house remains in good enough condition to avoid penalties (at least if you want to keep using it). 

Some tricky rules also start to pop up when you operate a business out of your home or run a business on a property you own. Certain businesses like car repair shops and retail stores can’t operate out of homes, and any pop-up stores (stores that set up for a few days, then move on) can’t set up in a residential area regardless of owner. Selling “adult” merchandise from home is also forbidden.

Vehicle storage comes under some scrutiny too. For example, you can only own one vehicle per driver at your residence (and said driver must possess a license). All vehicles need to work except for antiques or vehicles like boats, of which you can have two. You must enclose these in some sort of fence, however. 

Last but not least, some regulations refer to how you can run garage sales on your property. You’re limited to 4 per year, and they can only last for a maximum of 3 days. Once they go past this limit, the city considers them a home business and you’re subject to those rulings.

How to Avoid Fines

So now that you know these code violations, how do you avoid making them? For starters, try to run regular inspections of your house to make sure everything’s up to snuff. This includes testing your heating and electrical systems, checking the health of your doors and windows, and making sure all your water runs as expected. 

There are also things outside you can check on to stay in compliance. Things like watching your fence height, keeping your grass low, and trimming back trees all help to dodge unwelcome fees.

But what if these problems are too much to solve? Well, you can always sell the property off to a company for them to find a buyer! This solution also works if you’re looking to sell your house but don’t want to deal with the hassle of fixing it up for prospective buyers.

Master of the Code

And that’s it! Now that you know all about the most common Austin code violations and how to avoid them, you’re ready to kick back free of any fee-related worries you’ve had! And if you want to learn about how to get your house ready to sell or need someone to sell it to, feel free to contact us or check out the other articles on our blog!

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