§ 12-230. Unsafe structures and equipment  


Effective on Tuesday, July 18, 2017
  • When a structure or equipment is found by the code official to be unsafe, or when a structure is found unfit for human occupancy, or is found unlawful, such structure shall be placarded pursuant to the provisions of this code.

    §12-230.1  Unsafe structures. An unsafe structure is one that is found to be dangerous to the life, health, property or safety of the public or the occupants of the structure by not providing minimum safeguards to protect or warn occupants in the event of fire, or because such structure contains unsafe equipment or is so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsafe or of such faulty construction or unstable foundation, that partial or complete collapse is possible.

    §12-230.2  Unsafe equipment. Unsafe equipment includes any boiler, heating equipment, elevator, moving stairway, electrical wiring or device, flammable liquid containers or other equipment on the premises or within the structure which is in such disrepair or condition that such equipment is a hazard to life, health, property or safety of the public or occupants of the premises or structure.

    §12-230.3  Structure unfit for human occupancy. A structure is unfit for human occupancy whenever the code official finds that such structure is unsafe, unlawful or, because of the degree to which the structure is in disrepair or lacks maintenance, is insanitary, vermin or rat infested, contains filth and contamination, or lacks ventilation, illumination, sanitary or heating facilities or other essential equipment required by this code, or because the location of the structure constitutes a hazard to the occupants of the structure or to the public.

    §12-230.4  Unlawful structure. An unlawful structure is one found in whole or in part to be occupied by more persons than permitted under this code, or was erected, altered or occupied contrary to law.

    §12-230.5  Dangerous structure or premises. For the purpose of this code, any structure or premises that has any or all of the conditions or defects described below shall be considered dangerous.

    a. Any door, aisle, passageway, stairway, exit or other means of egress that does not conform to the requirements for existing buildings identified in Chapter 553, Florida Statutes, the Florida Building Code, the Florida Fire Prevention Code or the Florida Life Safety Code.

    b. The walking surface of any aisle, passageway, stairway, exit or other means of egress is so warped worn loose, torn or otherwise unsafe as to not provide safe and adequate means of egress.

    c. Any portion of a building, structure or appurtenance that has been damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood, deterioration, neglect, abandonment, vandalism or by any other cause to such an extent that it is likely to partially or completely collapse, or to become detached or dislodged.

    d. Any portion of a building, or any member, appurtenance or ornamentation on the exterior thereof that is not of sufficient strength or stability, or is not so anchored, attached or fastened in place so as to be capable of resisting natural or artificial loads of one and one-half the original designed value.

    e. The building or structure, or part of the building or structure, because of dilapidation, deterioration, decay, faulty construction, the removal or movement of some portion of the ground necessary for the support, or for any other reason, is likely to partially or completely collapse, or some portion of the foundation or underpinning of the building or structure is likely to fail or give way.

    f. The building or structure, or any portion thereof, is clearly unsafe for its use and occupancy.

    g. The building or structure is neglected, damaged, dilapidated, unsecured or abandoned so as to become an attractive nuisance to children who might play in the building or structure to their danger, becomes a harbor for vagrants, criminals or immoral persons, or enables persons to resort to the building or structure for committing a nuisance or an unlawful act.

    h. Any building or structure has been constructed, exists or is maintained in violation of any specific requirement or prohibition applicable to such building or structure provided by the approved building or fire code of the jurisdiction, or of any law or ordinance to such an extent as to present either a substantial risk of fire, building collapse or any other threat to life and safety.

    i. A building or structure, used or intended to be used for dwelling purposes, because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, decay, damage, faulty construction or arrangement, inadequate light, ventilation, mechanical or plumbing system, or otherwise, is determined by the code official to be unsanitary, unfit for habitation or in such a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease.

    j. Any building or structure, because of lack of sufficient or proper fire-resistance-related construction, fire protection systems, electrical system, fuel connections, mechanical system, plumbing system or other cause, is determined by the code official to be a threat to life or health.

    k. Any portion of a building remains on a site after the demolition or destruction of the building or structure or whenever any building or structure is abandoned so as to constitute such building or portion thereof as an attractive nuisance or hazard to the public.

    §12-230.6  Closing of vacant structures. If a structure is vacant and unfit for human habitation and occupancy, and is not in danger for structural collapse, but is open such that the interior of the structure is easily accessible through open or broken windows, open or broken doors, or missing structural elements, the Code Official is authorized to issue a demand for correction in accordance with Sec. 12-211 of this code.

    Alternatively, should the vacant structure

    (1) pose an imminent danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the general public;

    (2) be occupied periodically by transients or itinerants; or

    (3) be utilized for illegal conduct in violation of any federal, state or local law,

    the Code Official is authorized to have the structure immediately closed up so as not to be an attractive nuisance by posting a notice at each entrance to the building entitled "Notice of Section 12-230.6 Closing" and by sealing each accessible entrance. A "Notice of Section 12-230.6 Closing" shall be in substantially the following form:

    "NOTICE OF SECTION 12-230.6 CLOSING

    This vacant structure is uninhabitable and has been closed by Order of the City of Lake Wales Code Enforcement Unit pursuant to Section 12-230.6 (1), (2), and/or (3) of the Minimum Property Maintenance Standards of the City.

    For information, please call (863) 678-4182 X714".

    When the Code Official elects to post a "notice of closing" on a vacant structure at each accessible entrance, in accordance with subsection (1), (2) or (3) above, the Code Official shall send a bill for the City's expense in closing the structure to the owner of the property underlying the structure or the agent of such owner of the property underlying the structure by United States certified mail, return receipt requested. Should the City's bill be returned unclaimed, the City may then post the bill on the closed structure and at a conspicuous location at City Hall for ten (10) days, which, on the tenth day after posting, shall constitute the equivalent of delivery. After billing by the City, if the full amount due the City is not paid by the owner of the structure or the agent of the owner of the structure within thirty (30) days after receipt of the bill or after the expiration of ten (10) days after posting the bill, the Code Official shall cause to be recorded in the public records of the county, a sworn statement showing the cost and expense incurred for the work and the date, place and property on which such work was done, and an affidavit of constructive service by posting, if any, and the recordation of such sworn statement shall constitute a special assessment lien on the property equivalent to the lien of municipal taxes and taking precedence over all other recorded liens, and shall remain in full force and effect for the amount due on principal and interest, plus costs of court, if any, for collection, until final payment has been made. Such special assessment lien may be foreclosed in the manner provided for by general law.

    Any owner aggrieved by the findings and order of the Code Official shall have the right to appeal said decision prior to the expiration of the time within which to pay the bill for closing the structure due the City. Any appeal taken must be requested, in writing, and timely received by the City Clerk at 201 West Central Avenue, Lake Wales, Florida. In the event the time for owner to pay expires on a weekend, evening or a holiday, the owner shall have until 5:00 p.m. the next business day to file the request for appeal. Such written notice or request may be in any form which clearly notifies the City of the owner's request. The Code Official shall place the appeal on the agenda of the next scheduled Code Enforcement Board Hearing or may request a special meeting to hear the appeal. Any appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance with the action appealed from until after the hearing is held. It shall be the responsibility of the owner of the property in question to show that the City's actions are without reason. The Code Enforcement Board shall determine whether the appeal is justified. The appeal hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 162, Florida Statutes. If it is determined by the Code Enforcement Board, based on competent substantial evidence in the record, that the City's actions are without reason, the cost for closing the structure shall be borne by the City.

    No structure closed by the City pursuant to this section may be reopened unless said structure is wholly compliant with this code or unless it is shown during a timely appeal after hearing that the City's actions in closing the structure were without reason.

    §12-230.6.1  Authority to disconnect service utilities. The code official shall have the authority to authorize disconnection of utility service to the building, structure or system regulated by this code and the referenced codes and standards set forth in Section 12-227.6 in case of emergency where necessary to eliminate an immediate hazard to life or property or when such utility connection has been made without approval. The code official shall notify the serving utility and, whenever possible, the owner and occupant of the building, structure or service system of the decision to disconnect prior to taking such action. If not notified prior to the disconnection the owner or occupant of the building, structure, or service system shall be notified in writing as soon as practical thereafter.

    §12-230.7  Notice. Whenever the Building Official has reason to condemn a structure or equipment under the provisions of this section, a notice of violation shall be posted in a conspicuous place on or about the structure affected by such notice and served on the owners of land, the agent of such owners, or the person or persons responsible for the structure or equipment by United States certified mail, return receipt requested. If the notice pertains to equipment, it shall also be placed on the equipment in violation. The notice shall specify a reasonable time in which the structure or equipment owner or the person or persons responsible for the structure or equipment shall abate the condition and bring such structure or equipment into compliance.

    §12-230.8  Placarding. Upon failure of the owner or person responsible to comply with the notice provisions within the time given, the Code Official shall post on the premises or on defective equipment a placard which includes a statement of the penalties provided for occupying the premises, operating the equipment or removing the placard.

    §12-230.8.1  Placard removal.  The code official shall remove the  placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the placarding action were based have been eliminated. Any person who defaces or removes a placard without the approval of the code official shall be subject to the penalties provided by this code. 

    §12-230.9  Prohibited occupancy.  Any occupied structure placarded by a Code Official shall be vacated as ordered by the Code Official. Any person who shall occupy a placarded premises or shall operate placarded equipment, and any owner, agent of such owner, or any person responsible for the premises who shall let anyone occupy a placarded premises or operate placarded equipment shall be subject to the penalties of this section.

    §12-230.10  Abatement methods. The owner, operator or occupant of a building, premises or equipment deemed unsafe by the code official shall abate or cause to be abated or corrected such unsafe conditions either by repair, rehabilitation, demolition or other approved corrective action.

    §12-230.11  Record. The code official shall cause a report to be filed on an unsafe condition. The report shall state the occupancy of the structure and the nature of the unsafe condition.

    §12-230.12 Boarded up structures.  No vacant structure may be boarded up by its owner for a period of time exceeding one hundred twenty (120) days unless:

    (1) the owner is granted a written waiver signed by the Building Official and the Code Official; or

    (2) the structure has been closed in accordance with Sec. 12-230.6 of this code.

    All vacant structures shall be maintained in accordance with Sec. 12.235.6 of this code ("Exterior walls"), and all materials used to enclose the building must be neatly fitted within window and door openings and must be painted to blend in with the rest of the building. Closing a structure in accordance with Sec.12-230.6 of this code does not relieve the owner from complying with this provision.

    §12-230.13 Penalties: Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, and punishable as provided in F.S. 775.083, except that a violation of F.S. 823.10 (Place where controlled substances are illegally kept, sold, or used declared a public nuisance) is a felony of the third degree.

(Ord. No. 2016-02, § 1, 1-19-16; Ord. No. 2017-12, § 3, 7-18-2017)