The City of Lakeport’s Code Enforcement Division is here to ensure all of our neighborhoods are consistent with community standards and are in compliance with the Municipal Code. City staff conducts both proactive and reactive inspections of residential areas. Homeowners found not in compliance with the provisions outlined in the Municipal Code are subject to citation.
The City of Lakeport's Code Enforcement Staff is not here simply to enforce these codes, but to work cooperatively with property owners and residents; both to meet the community standards and to create a quality living environment for our residents.
Substandard Housing Basics
California laws, as well as local zoning requirements, require that all houses be safe for their occupants and the surrounding area. This means that houses must meet local building codes, must not be falling apart or infested with rodents and must not pose other safety hazards to either visitors or residents. Houses that do not meet these requirements are considered substandard.
Physical deterioration is often a contributing factor to substandard housing. A house might, for example, need a new roof. When it rains, the roof might cave in or leak, causing the house to flood or the residents to be injured. This, in turn, creates further hazards if the house is flooded or falling apart. Some cases of substandard housing are not so visible. Outdated or dangerous electrical systems, rusting or loose pipes and gas leaks can all pose significant safety hazards that might go unnoticed until an accident happens.
Issues for Renters
The law requires landlords to keep their properties in safe, habitable condition and to comply with local building codes. Renters whose homes are in disrepair should contact their landlords in writing. The law further permits renters to repair damage themselves and deduct the costs from rent if a landlord fails to provide repairs within 30 days of notification. However, the repairs must cost less than one month's rent for the repair-and-deduct option to be viable. If the house is uninhabitable, this might void the lease and enable the renters to move out; it could also be grounds for a lawsuit. For more information about the rights of Tenants and Landlords, go to the following link www.achhd.org/documents/California-Tenants-Guide.pdf
Issues for Owners
Sometimes owners simply can't afford to repair their homes. This can start a cascade of legal problems. Substandard homes might be condemned or the landlord might be prohibited from allowing anyone to occupy the home until it's repaired. If a home is in disrepair and the landlord cannot fix it, the owner should contact the Public Housing Authority for guidance.
As defined by California Health and Safety Code (H&SC), Section 17920.3, a substandard building is any building or portion thereof in which certain conditions exist to the extent that it endangers the health and safety of its occupants or the public. Following is a list of those conditions:
Inadequate sanitation due to a lack of, or improper:
- bathroom facilities in a dwelling unit
- bathroom facilities per number of hotel guests
- kitchen sink
- hot and cold running water
- adequate heating
- operation of required ventilating equipment
- minimum amounts of natural light and ventilation required by H&SC 17920.3
- room and space dimensions as required by H&SC 17920.3
- required electrical lighting
- connection to required sewage disposal system
Dampness, general dilapidation or improper maintenance constitute substandard housing if the condition endangers the health and safety of the occupants or the public. In cases of insect/rodent infestation and inadequate garbage storage and removal, a health officer must determine the health and safety risk.
Structural hazards, including:
- deteriorated or inadequate foundations
- flooring or floor supports which is/are defective, deteriorated or insufficient to carry imposed loads with safety
- walls, partitions, or other vertical supports that split, lean, list or buckle due to defective material or deterioration, or are of insufficient size to carry imposed loads with safety
- ceilings, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or other horizontal supports which sag, split, or buckle due to defective material or deterioration, or are of insufficient size to carry imposed loads with safety
- fireplaces or chimneys which list, bulge, or settle due to defective material or deterioration, or are of insufficient size or strength to carry imposed loads with safety
Any nuisance which endangers the health and safety of the occupants or the public.
All substandard plumbing, wiring, and/or mechanical equipment, unless it conformed to all applicable laws in effect at the time of installation and has been maintained in a good and safe condition. All plumbing work must be free of cross-connections and siphonage between fixtures.
Faulty weather protection, including:
- deteriorated, crumbling, or loose plaster
- deteriorated or ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roof, foundations, or floors, including broken windows or doors
- broken, rotted, split, or buckled exterior wall coverings or roof coverings
The use of construction materials not allowed or approved by H&SC 17920.3.
Fire, health and safety hazards (as determined by the appropriate fire or health official), including the accumulation of:
- weeds, vegetation or combustible materials
- junk, debris or garbage
- offal or dead organic matter
- rodent harborages
- stagnant water
Lack of, or inadequate fire-resistive construction or fire-extinguishing systems as required by H&SC 17920.3, unless the construction and/or systems conformed to all applicable laws in effect at the time of construction and/or installation and whose fire-resistive integrity and fire-extinguishing systems have been adequately maintained and improved in relation to any increase in occupant load, alteration or addition or any change in occupancy.
Inadequate structural resistance to horizontal forces.
Buildings or portions thereof occupied for living, sleeping, cooking, or dining purposes which were not designed or intended to be used for such occupancies.
Inadequate maintenance which causes a building or any portion thereof to be declared unsafe.