Can code enforcement enter my house?

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Latest post 11-26-2007 3:35 AM by Taxagent. 10 replies.
  • 11-17-2007 7:54 PM

    Can code enforcement enter my house?

    Code enforcement was coming out to my house to recheck for high grass/weeds. I had a feeling they would enter my house so I placed two tape recorders inside. I went to the house every 2 hours to change the tapes. One recorder was behind the front door and the second was hidden behind a loaf of bread and salt/pepper shakers on a shelf in the kitchen.

    On the tape you can hear a knock at the door, the door creaking open, very distinct, female voice says "Don't say anything if you see them" and then the front, heavy door closes. The tape recorder behind the front door is picked up (you can hear it being handled) and then shut off.

    The second recorder picked up the same noises, except you can hear cabinet doors being opened and shut. Finally you hear the salt/pepper shakers being lifted up and put back down and then the second recorder is shut off.

    There is no doubt in my mind who was in the house. I have had several converations with the CEO in my small town and recognized the voice. We only have 2 CEOs, both are female.

    I wrote CE a letter saying that it had come to my attention that someone entered the house and asked if CE entered for some reason. They flat out deny being in the house. I have tried to figure out why she would enter and then leave the tapes behind knowing her voice was recorded. My only conclusion... she didn't realize how loudly she was speaking and the recorders picked it up.

    There is a history of bad blood between me and CEOs as they got in trouble the last time I was written up - that's another story in itself.

    I live in a very, very small town. I don't know if I should make a police report out and when asked who I think it is then say what I think. Can I be sued for slander if I suggest it is these women?

    Thanks so much for any advice
  • 11-18-2007 3:56 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    “I live in a very, very small town. I don't know if I should make a police report out and when asked who I think it is then say what I think. Can I be sued for slander if I suggest it is these women? ”

    Certainly they could sue. Whether they would win or not depends on the details of what you say and your state’s law. Generally complaints made to law enforcement are given a high degree of protection in order to encourage reporting crime. However, you may want to determine if they had a right to enter anyway before you do that.

    Also, it is quite possible that your tape recording of their conversation was itself illegal. While it is legal in some states to secretly record a conversation if you are one of the persons taking part in that conversation, it is usually not legal to record conversations of others when you are not one of the participants. You will want to check that out before you go to the police and give them that tape. It likely would have been better to have video cameras set up to just take the images (and not record the sound).
  • 11-18-2007 10:42 AM In reply to

    re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    "I had a feeling they would enter my house"

    Then why not just lock the place up so they can't enter the house?

    You can certainly make a police report. That's up to you.

    You can certainly identify who you believe the voice on the tape is.

    You can certainly be sued for slander. Anybody can sue anybody for anything. Whether they win or not is anybody's guess. Although in this case I doubt it.

    As for the legality of the taping, check Fla. Stat. ch. 934.02.

    Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication.

    I don't believe that somebody entering somebody else's house has any expectation of privacy.

    But that's just a summary and my own opinion so make sure you read the statute. If I'm wrong you've committed at least a misdemeanor.


    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 11-22-2007 12:16 AM In reply to

    re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    First I would like to thank you for responding to my question.

    To answer some of your questions... I faxed an emergency response letter to CE asking if they entered the house and requested a 24-hour response. This letter was answered 5 days later with a hand-written denial from the CEO. However, when I overnighted the same letter and fax comfirmation to their supervisor, I received a phone message within one hour of the signature. Both messages stated CE did not go into the house.

    In this letter I also requested all documentation and photographs taken of my property to be sent to me. It has been nearly a month and I have not received anything.

    I definitely agree video would have been better. However, my camcorder battery died during the 5th hour and they entered in the 6th hour. I had 5 days notice they were coming back (3 business days) and did the best I could.



  • 11-22-2007 12:50 AM In reply to

    re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    I hope you have read the above response ... If not, thank you for responding to my question.

    I read the statue you quoted... I am trying to find something regarding protecting your home, in-home recordings or recordings done while trespassing. Certainly if they didn't enter the home, they would not have been recorded. My recorders are not that far reaching.

    I want to explain the "high grass" issue because on the onset it may leave a bad impression. I have my grass professionally cut and weed wacked every 7-10 days as needed. The grass was cut on 10/8/07, they were initially out 10/10, I failed. The second inspection was done on 10/20 and grass was cut on 10/18, failed again but now with a case number. Re-inspection on 10/30 (day they entered), no grass cutting done and apparently I passed. My lawn is cut by a professional landscaping company. I look forward to their pictures to prove I was not in compliance.

    Thank you again for your time.





    I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

    Mojo
  • 11-24-2007 4:41 PM In reply to

    re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    The interesting thing is, no ordinance can be enforced on your property by any community, unless it proves to be unsafe for others. Therefore, because your grass is longer than your city would like, does not give them the right to 1) tell them how long it can be, and 2) does not, in any circumstance allow them to trespass on your property, let alone enter your house. Find out who they are and have the arrested.

    This ordinance thing falls under the "takings" issues of emminent domain, and no community has the right to restrict the use of your property, and if you want your lawn to 1 foot high, they have no right to tell you otherwise, and the US supreme court has said so.

  • 11-24-2007 5:10 PM In reply to

    Disagree [)*(] re: Can code enforcement enter my house?

    There are health and safety reasons for ordinances about things like grass.

    I think you have misinterpreted something you've read.
  • 11-25-2007 3:05 PM In reply to

    Note [#=#] Police powers . . .

    is the doctrine that allows a municipality to enforce regulations to promote the health, safety and welfare of a community. That includes limitations on how tall grass may be.
  • 11-25-2007 4:43 PM In reply to

    Disagree [)*(] It's not a taking.

    “The interesting thing is, no ordinance can be enforced on your property by any community, unless it proves to be unsafe for others.”

    Sorry, Bill, but that is not a correct statement of the law. The government has a rather broad (though not unlimited) power to regulate property and its use resulting from one of several doctrines, the most common being the general police power to regulate for the health and welfare of the community.

    “Therefore, because your grass is longer than your city would like, does not give them the right to 1) tell them how long it can be, and 2) does not, in any circumstance allow them to trespass on your property, let alone enter your house.”

    Thus, the city indeed can regulate the length of your grass and, furthermore, can generally enter upon property to inspect and enforce those ordinances.

    “Find out who they are and have [them] arrested.”

    You can call the police, but you can’t force the police to arrest them. In this situation, I feel pretty safe saying that the police likely would not take any action to arrest the code enforcement officers.

    “This ordinance thing falls under the "takings" issues of emminent domain, and no community has the right to restrict the use of your property, and if you want your lawn to 1 foot high, they have no right to tell you otherwise, and the US supreme court has said so.”

    Unfortuantely, you apparently do not understand takings law. First of all, if an act is taking, that does not mean the government cannot do it, it simply means the government must pay the owner compensation for it. Second, most regulation of property, including zoning restrictions, building codes, regulations on how high the grass must be, condition of the sidewalk, etc., are not “takings” and thus do not require the government to compensate the owner. I don’t know what you read, but certainly your post does not reflect the Supreme Court opinions on the issue.
  • 11-25-2007 10:25 PM In reply to

    re: It's not a taking.

    "Thus, the city indeed can regulate the length of your grass and, furthermore, can generally enter upon property to inspect and enforce those ordinances."

    Grass and weeds cannot be higher than 10 inches. I agree with this ordinance.

    Per the supervisor's message, they are only allowed to take the vantage point of a neighbor or a person driving by. If there is a gated driveway, they cannot open the gate to do an inspection. They would need my permission or an administrative warrant to do that.

    "You can call the police, but you can’t force the police to arrest them. In this situation, I feel pretty safe saying that the police likely would not take any action to arrest the code enforcement officers"

    Their supervisor actually advised me to call the police and make out a trepassing report if I thought the house was entered. If they were allowed to enter the house, reason would lead me to believe they would have admitted it.
  • 11-26-2007 3:35 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: It's not a taking.

    I was responding to Bill’s broad assertion that they could not enter the property at all. That's not a correct statement of the law. They can observe the lawn from the street, of course, and may be able to enter upon the areas of the property that are accessible to the public. In order to enter inside the home, however, generally either your permission, a court order, or some kind of administrative procedure is needed. Generally, though, if the officers needed to get inside to do an inspection, they likely could have obtained the authorization required to do it. If indeed the officers entered your home, the question would be whether they obtained the required authorization before entering.
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