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Public Nuisances

Last updated Aug. 13, 2014 - 9:25 am

A public nuisance is any condition occurring in an open place that is found to constitute a detriment, danger and hazard to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the inhabitants of the City of Raleigh. Common public nuisances include:

  • The dense growth of tall weeds or grass that is over 8 inches in height.
  • The open air concentration of combustibles (mattresses, boxes, paper, tires, trash, etc.).
  • The concentration of building materials not suitable for construction (concrete, steel, etc.).
  • The open air storage of junked refrigerators, appliances or household furniture.
  • The concentration of junk or litter

All Raleigh residents have a responsibility to make sure their property is clean, safe and free of potential health hazards. The Raleigh City Code and North Carolina state statutes set out the procedures used to control and remove dangers to the public health, and to help ensure a clean, safe and healthy environment in the Capital City as referenced in the City Code Part 10 Sec. 10-6123 and Part 12 Sec. 12-6002.

Violations of the City's Health, Sanitation and Public Nuisance Ordinance are reported by citizens, City Agencies and Code Inspectors.

How to report a nuisance

What do I need to request an inspection?

The exact address of the property, when possible, that is in violation and a description of the violations on the property.

How can I make a complaint?

Complaints can be submitted via the City's Code Enforcement Request Form called into the Housing & Neighborhood Preservation Division at 919-996-2442.

What is the procedure for reporting a public nuisance?

Once a public nuisance is reported by either of the methods above:

  1. The inspection request is assigned to an Inspector.
  2. The inspector will perform an inspection of the property.
  3. If it is determined a violation of Raleigh’s City Municipal Code Section 12-6002 exists, a public nuisance case will be initiated.
  4. A notice will be sent to the property owner(s) indicating the presence of violation(s).
  5. The owner(s) is given 10 days to resolve the violation(s).
  6. If the nuisance(s) still exist after the deadline date/re-inspection, the case will be submitted for abatement.

What the City will do when you call?

For most problems on rental property, when the problem is brought to the attention of the City and appears to be a violation of one of the City's laws or ordinances, the property will be visited by either a police officer (if a crime or a violation of the noise or excessive party ordinance) or a City inspector. The officer or inspector will investigate. If it is a police matter, the officer will issue a warning or citation. If it is a building inspection issue, the inspector will issue an order to bring the property into compliance.

  • The inspector will notify the property owner (as identified on the Wake County Tax Records) of any existing violations
  • The property owner has approximately ten (10) days to bring the property into compliance with the City Code
  • The property owner may be assessed an Administrative Fee and/or Civil Penalties if the violation is a repeated condition
  • Failure to correct violations could result in work being done by the City or a contractor. If abated by the City, the owner would receive a notice requesting payment for the work performed in addition to any administrative or legal fees
  • Failure to pay abatement costs could result in a lien being placed against the property

The Housing & Neighborhood Preservation Division is responsible for enforcing public nuisance violations in Raleigh. Penalties are imposed against owners of property who allow these health and safety nuisances to exist on their property. Under an ordinance approved by the City Council that took effect on Jan. 1, 2007, a property owner who abates a nuisance when notified of its existence by the City will not be assessed any fees. However, if the property owner has a second nuisance code violation within 12 months of the first violation, the City will assess the owner an administrative fee of $100 for the second violation plus a minimum $250 civil penalty.

Generally, the City of Raleigh will notify a property owner of a public nuisance violation by first-class mail and possibly posting a notice of violation at the location of the public nuisance. The owner will have ten (10) days from the mailing and/or posting of the notice to correct the violation.

For housing and nuisance issues, a period of time will be allowed for the property owner to bring the property into compliance. If the property owner fails to do this within the allotted time, a civil penalty will be imposed. In some cases, the nuisance will be taken care of by the City and billed back to the property owner; the property owner will be required to obtain a Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit (PROP) for that unit.

The PROP will remain in effect for two years, when it will expire if no further violations occur at the same property. If further violations occur, much higher fines will be imposed and the property owner's ability to rent the unit may be withheld for up to a two-year period. Landlords who have a pattern of repeat citations at a rental property also must obtain the permit.

The Raleigh City Council adopted the PROP ordinance to:

  • Reduce the likelihood that tenant-occupied housing accommodations will become public nuisances in violation of City codes
  • Promote responsible management of tenant-occupied housing
  • Assist in providing a safe habitat for residents and neighbors of tenant-occupied housing
  • Safeguard property values
  • Reduce the likelihood that unsafe or unfit housing will exist or be occupied
  • Expedite the repair of residential housing accommodations where code violations occur

The City of Raleigh's regulations, including the PROP, are designed to encourage the property owner to comply with regulations. If a property owner is actively working to resolve the problem, City inspectors will attempt to work with them. But if the property owner chooses not to respond to correcting violations, the PROP ordinance gives the City the ability to remove the property owners' right to rent the unit.

What is a public nuisance abatement?

Public nuisance abatement is a corrective action taken by the city to resolve a public nuisance violation when the property’s owner has failed to do so within an allotted time. We will coordinate with either the Streets Division or use a private contractor to remove the violation(s). City Council will then be asked to confirm the cost of the abatement, as well as an administrative fee, as a lien on the property, if unpaid by the property owner.

Will I be charged if a public nuisance is found on my property?

A first offense violation does not carry a fee. A second public nuisance violation found on a property within 12 months of the first public nuisance violation will result in a $100 administrative fee and a $250 civil penalty. A third public nuisance violation found on a property within 12 months of the first carries a $100 administrative fee and a $500 civil penalty.

Noise

With more than 300,000 people in Raleigh, it is imperative that we are considerate of our neighbors.  Noise, especially at night, can be a serious problem not only for those that have to hear it, but for those making the racket.  The City of Raleigh enforces noise ordinances to help keep its neighborhoods pleasant places to live.

The City Code (see Sec. 12-5007(c).Sec 12-5008) gives specific details of the noise-related laws in Raleigh. Furthermore, Section 13-3017 outlines the laws regarding nuisance parties.  Both tenants and landlords should familiarize themselves with these laws.

Construction and demolition are permitted between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Noise complaints related to construction and demolition during these hours are not enforceable. If construction related noise is taking place before 7:00 a.m. or after 8:30 p.m. then a complaint can be made with the Raleigh Police Department at 919-831-6311.

Please remember that Raleigh places limits on loud music coming from automobiles.  Under the ordinance, music must be contained to a distance of no more than 50 feet from the vehicle.  Covered under the law are: radios, stereo receivers, cassette tape players, compact disc players and other similar devices.  The ordinance particularly is aimed at motorists who drive through residential areas playing loud music.

Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of $500.

Problem Properties

Occasionally, a rental property in a neighborhood deteriorates or is occupied by tenants who are noisy or show a lack of respect for the property of others.

If a property develops problems with lack of maintenance, dangerous electrical or physical issues, crime, noise, overgrown vegetation or trash, or abandoned cars in the yard, some City of Raleigh ordinances may assist in bringing the property into compliance.

Please remember that you should also be a good neighbor by trying contacting the property owner first to inform them of the problem. Most landlords want to keep the property in good shape and may not know of a problem when it exists. If the landlord is unresponsive, check the list below for your next step.

1. If a crime has taken place or is suspected to be happening, call 9-1-1

2. For problems with loud or unruly tenants, call your district police station.

3. For problems with poor housing conditions, trash in the yard, or more than one unlicensed vehicle parked on the property, call the Housing & Neighborhood Preservation Division at 919-996-2444.

Vehicles

City ordinances (Part 12 Chapter 7) prohibit abandoned and nuisance vehicles. An abandoned motor vehicle is one that is:

  • Left on any public street or highway in violation of a traffic or parking law;
  • Left on any public street or highway longer than seven days;
  • Left on property owned or operated by the City of Raleigh for longer than 24 hours; or,
  • Left on private property without the consent of the property owner, occupant or tenant for longer than two (2) hours

A nuisance motor vehicle is one which:

  • Serves as a breeding ground or harbor for insects, rats or other pests;
  • Is surrounded by heavy growth or weeds or other vegetation over eight inches high;
  • Is being used to store combustibles, such as gasoline, oil or other explosive or flammable materials;
  • Is a collection for garbage, waste or water;
  • Is positioned in such a manner that it may fall, turn over or make an unsafe movement;
  • Is considered unsafe due to jagged metal or broken glass; or,
  • Any other vehicle that the City Council has specifically declared a health and safety hazard and a public nuisance

The City of Raleigh Police Department is responsible for the removal of abandoned or nuisance vehicles from public streets or City-owned property. No notice to the vehicle owner is required. The Housing & Neighborhood Preservation Division is responsible for the removal of abandoned or nuisance vehicles from private property. The vehicle owner is notified of the violation by a notice affixed to the vehicle and by certified mail. If the violation is not corrected by the date set by the City (no sooner than seven days after the notice is affixed), the vehicle will be towed away at the owner’s expense. To regain possession of the vehicle, the owner must pay storage fees owed to the towing company as well as towing charges. If payment is not made, the towing company will dispose of the vehicle.

City ordinance also prohibits the open storage of two or more vehicles that are:

  • Unlicensed;
  • Uninspected;
  • Wrecked;
  • Crushed; or
  • Partially or totally dismantled

After preliminary inspection and notification of violation by the City, the vehicle owner is given a deadline to remove the vehicle. If the vehicle is not removed by the deadline, the City inspector may issue a civil citation against the owner with an initial fine of $100 per vehicle. If the violation is not corrected after the initial citation is issued, the fine increases to $500 per day until the matter is resolved.

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