Every week, hundreds of Nashvillians report possible property standards violations throughout the city. Inspectors in the property standards division investigate each of those complaints to determine whether a violation exists and take the appropriate steps to correct the problem.
The following represents a typical case involving property standards violations. As with many areas, there are special circumstances or conditions that might arise that deviate from this process. But on average, this is how a reported property standards violation is investigated and resolved.
When a violation is reported, inspectors will typically attempt to visit to the property within 1 to 5 business days. It is this initial inspection where they will note and document any potential property standards violation. They may document more or less than was originally reported to Codes based on a visual assessment of this property.
If no violations are found, the case is closed. If violations are found, the inspector will then send an abatement notice to the owner.
An abatement notice is essentially a warning notice that the property owner is in violation of the Metro Code and that they have a certain amount of time to abate (or fix) the problems. Issues like tall grass and weeds are expected to be resolved quickly, while more time is given for bigger issues such as dilapidated housing.
The goal of the Codes Department is not to punish property owners, but rather to resolve property standards violations as quickly as possible for the general health and welfare of the community. An abatement notice serves as an opportunity for responsible property owners to do just that.
After the allotted time has passed for a property owner to fix issues at their property, an inspector will go back out to visually determine whether those problems have been addressed. If they have been fixed, then the case is closed. If there is progress towards addressing the problems, the inspectors will often work with the owner to give them more time to complete the work. However, if no progress or not enough progress is made, the action will escalate.
If the problem has not been resolved in the amount of time allotted, the property standards inspection will either issue a citation to appear in court or request a civil warrant to be delivered by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. In order to hold a court hearing, Metro must show that the property owner was properly served with notice. This process can take some time if Codes or the DCSO has difficulty located the owner in person.
Once a warrant has been served, it is time to go to environmental court. Overseen by an administrative law judge, the environmental court is the opportunity for the Metro Government to show evidence of violations of the property standards code, and the property owner to plead their case.
If the judge finds in favor of Metro that a violation occurred, they can assess penalties or injunctions to force the remediation of the property standards violation. The court can impose up to a $50 a day fine for each violation.
Repeating the Process
Metro Codes will continue inspecting the property and issuing new civil warrants or citations until the problems have been rectified, with penalties likely escalating if the problems are not corrected. While rare, in cases where problems such as dilapidated housing are not financially feasible to be fixed, demolition orders or property liens can result.