Learn about common Austin Code violations and how City of Austin codes and ordinances protect our health and safety. Report suspected violations by calling 3-1-1, using the 3-1-1 app, or making a report online. Once reported, a service request will be created for code enforcement and the matter will be investigated.

Five common code violations on residential properties are:

If you are a renter, here are some tenant resources for identifying and reporting violations in your home.

gif showing five common code violations

 


The following is a list of common code violations and how to recognize them. Please keep in mind that this list does not include every possible code violation. Visit the Municipal Code Library for a complete listing of Austin codes and ordinances. If you have questions, call Code Connect at (512)-974-2633 [512-974-CODE].

For issues outside the scope of Code Department enforcement, the Austin Municipal Court provides a way for individuals to file complaints with the court. Examples of those complaints include insurance violations, noisy animals, loud music, traffic code, city code, and criminal violations. Learn more about filing a citizen complaint.

Infracciones comunes de código en Austin

Infórmese sobre las infracciones comunes de código en Austin y sobre cómo los códigos y ordenanzas de la ciudad de Austin protegen nuestra salud y seguridad. Denuncie posibles infracciones llamando al 3-1-1 o presentando una queja en línea (en inglés). Una vez presentada, se creará una solicitud de servicio para el Departamento de Códigos y se investigará el asunto.

Cinco infracciones comunes del código en propiedades residenciales son

  • el césped alto,
  • el trabajo sin autorización
  • la basura y los desperdicios acumulados
  • las condiciones antihigiénicas
  • los problemas con las paredes exteriores

Si es un inquilino, aquí hay algunos recursos para inquilinos para identificar y denunciar infracciones en su hogar.

un GIF de cinco infracciones subestandares comunes

Aquí hay una lista de infracciones comunes del código y cómo reconocerlas. Tenga en cuenta que esto no es una lista completa de posibles problemas de código. Visite la Biblioteca de códigos municipales para obtener una lista completa de los códigos y ordenanzas de Austin. Si tiene preguntas, comuníquese con Code Connect al 512-974-CODE (512-974-2633).

Common Code Violations

Accumulated Trash/Illegal Dumping

Austin residents may not accumulate trash, debris, brush, filth, carrion, or any other unsightly, objectionable, or unwholesome matter on their property. It is also a code violation to store any material on a vacant lot.

Garbage and unwanted items must be disposed of in regulated areas. In addition to designated trash containers, there are several landfills in the Austin area where you may dispose of items that you no longer want for a fee. Leaving these items anywhere else is considered illegal dumping.

Code enforcement pursues two goals with illegal dumping: ensuring the dump site is cleaned up and catching the perpetrator. If caught, offenders may be required to clean up the dump site and pay a fine. However, cleaning up the dump site is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner even if they are not the offender.

Business and Industry Regulations

Businesses and industries must have all required City approvals such as permits, site plans, inspections and certificates of occupancy. These regulate many aspects of the business, such as the number of parking spaces, type of lighting, type of signage, plumbing requirements, etc. If there has been a change in a local business that is affecting your neighborhood or home, the business may not be in compliance. View permits issued to specific businesses.

Mobile Vendors

Mobile vendors may not be located on residential private property or property zoned LO (Limited Office), NO (Neighborhood Office) or GO (General Office) per City Code 25-2-812 - Mobile Food Establishments. On the right of way, mobile vendors are regulated by the Austin Transportation Department and the Austin Police Department.

Running a Business from Home

Home businesses are highly regulated. Businesses that cannot be run from home include auto repair shops, contractor's yards, adult-oriented businesses and retail businesses. You also may not store commercial vehicles at your home.

Adult-Oriented Businesses

Adult-oriented businesses, like all businesses, must be located in the appropriate zone. In addition, they must not be located within 1,000 feet of a church, school, public park, public playground, licensed daycare or a lot where another adult-oriented business is located. You may not run an adult-oriented business from your home.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Any structure that is used for residential purposes and uses gas or fuel-burning appliances (and/or has an attached garage that connects to the structure) are required to install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Not having appropriately placed CO detectors in these structures is a code violation.

If there is a gas or fuel-burning appliance inside the bedroom or inside an attached bathroom to the bedroom, then the detector must be placed inside the bedroom. Detectors must also be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, when the gas or fuel-burning appliance is outside the bedroom and/or there is an attached garage that connects to the dwelling unit. A gas or fuel-burning appliance includes, but is not limited to: a water heater, furnace, space heater, stove, oven, boiler and/or a fireplace.

Download our English and Spanish flyers (PDF 225KB) to learn more. You can also read the full ordinance text for Section 705 Carbon Monoxide Alarms (PDF 282KB).

Construction Without a Permit

Property owners or their agents must get a permit to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, demolish or move a structure. This includes garage conversions. In addition, they must get a permit to change the use of a structure (for example, to change a residence into an office). Failure to obtain an appropriate permit may result in enforcement action. View all permits issued by the City.

male construction worker writing on a piece of paper

Dangerous/Fire-Damaged Structures

Dangerous structures must be made safe or demolished. Dangerous conditions include potential structural failure, exposed electrical wiring, and abandoned, open structures. Vacant buildings must be adequately secured by fencing and/or boarding.

When a building is damaged in a fire, code enforcement sends an investigator to assess the damage and ensure the building is adequately secured. Fire-damaged buildings must then either be repaired or demolished to meet code standards.

air conditioning unit collapsed into a sinkhole near an apartment building

Fences

Fences must be in sound condition and at an appropriate height. On a corner lot, fences must not block the view of traffic at the intersection. In residential areas, solid fences may not be more than 6 feet tall with two exceptions:

  • If the fence is around a pool or another hazard and if permission from all adjoining neighbors is filed with the City, then a residential fence may be 8 feet tall.
  • If the fence is between a residence and a commercial property, it may be 8 feet tall.

wooden brown fence posts

Garage Sales

A garage sale may not be held at the same property more than four days per calendar year or at a property participating in a residential tour (Residential Tours, Section 25-2-902). More than four garage sales per calendar year is a violation of the City Code and is considered a home-based business (Home Occupation, Section 25-2-900). In addition, signs advertising the garage sale may only be posted on the property where the sale is occurring for no more than three consecutive days.

garage sale sign at a garage sale

 

Garbage Carts Left at the Curb

Garbage carts must be returned to their storage area on private property by 10 p.m. on the designated collection day. They should be placed at the curb by 6:30 a.m. on collection day but not prior to 8 p.m. the evening before.

Graphic of a cartoon garbage and recycling cart in a yard wearing glasses below the header banner saying "be cart smart"

Grass/Weeds Over 12 Inches

Grass and weeds must be kept below 12 inches. Letting grass and weeds grow taller than 12 inches creates unsanitary conditions and is also a code violation. City code (City of Austin Code 10-5, Article 2) requires that grass and weeds be maintained below 12 inches.

Keeping grass and weeds short is an important way to prevent rodents, insects and stagnant water from developing as a result of overgrowth. When grass and weeds are maintained below 12 inches, our community not only looks better, but is cleaner and safer. 

Housing in Substandard Condition

Property owners are obligated to maintain their properties to the minimum standards set by the Uniform Housing Code and the Dangerous Building Code. This is especially important for rental properties. Examples of common violations include but are not limited to:

  • heating problems
  • plumbing problemselectrical problems
  • structural hazards
  • infestation and other unsanitary conditions
  • issues with exterior walls, such as lack of weather protection and cracks

collapsed concrete structure in front of an apartment entrance

Signs

You may not post a sign in the right of way or on public property. In residential areas, you may post the following signs on private property temporarily:

  • Contractors' signs 
  • Garage or yard sale signs
  • Neighborhood meeting signs
  • Political signs
  • Real estate signs

Off-premise signs are prohibited. For example, a garage sale sign can only be placed where the sale is taking place, or a house for sale sign can only be placed on the property where the house is being sold. In non-residential areas, all signs must be on private property. Signs that are illegally placed in restricted areas are called bandit signs (PDF 3MB) and should be reported to 3-1-1.

A permit is required for a permanent sign, such as a business sign.

The City has a sign ordinance (Chapter 25-10 Sign Regulations) that regulates all signs, including political campaign signs. The City does not regulate the content of billboards.

Image of political signs outside a polling place

Stagnant Water

Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Property owners must drain stagnant water on their properties. Typical sources of stagnant water include pools in disrepair, tires, and buckets. Mosquitoes only need a teaspoon of water to breed. During warmer months, mosquitoes can develop in as little as three days. In addition to itching, mosquito bites can lead to diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus.

For more information about ways to reduce mosquitoes around your property, download our flyer (PDF 1.5MB).

closeup of mosquito biting skin

 

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools in residential areas must be enclosed by an approved fence. In addition, swimming pools must be maintained to prevent them from holding stagnant water. The City of Austin's Health and Human Services Department regulates public pools and pools at apartments, hotels and motels.

swimming pool

 

Tree Limbs Blocking Right of Way

Property owners must trim trees that hang over the street. There must be at least 14 feet of clearance at the curb line. The Public Works Department handles trees that fall and block the right of way.

Vehicle Storage

There are a number of regulations that concern the storage of vehicles in a residential area.

  • There must not be more vehicles stored at a residence than there are licensed drivers. Additional vehicles must be in the garage.
  • All vehicles must be functional, with the exception of antique vehicles or recreational vehicles. One vehicle under repair for less than 60 days is allowed.
  • Residents may keep two antique or recreational vehicles, such as a boat or RV, screened behind a 6-foot wood or masonry fence.
  • Only one commercial vehicle (with a capacity less than one ton) may be stored at a residence.

Please report junked or abandoned vehicles to 3-1-1.