City of Austin codes and ordinances protect our health and safety. Codes regulate proper property upkeep, land use, and building conditions. What can you do to make sure your property stays safe? 🏡
Here are tips to help inspect your property:
Doors – are all doors working properly and in good repair? Make sure there’s no damage to the door jambs, hardware, weather stripping, or protective treatment.
Windows – are all window panes in place and unbroken? Are the window locks working? Windows should be weather tight with no breezes or moisture coming through. If used as an emergency exit, make sure it can open and is unobstructed.
Walls, floors, & ceilings – are they in good condition? Make sure there are no cracks, holes, gaps, trip hazards, or damage to these surfaces.
Electrical – Check your light switches and outlets to see if they are working and in good repair. Make sure there is no exposed or damaged wiring.
Sink, toilet, tub, & shower – are the faucets and fixtures working correctly? Is there sufficient water pressure? Check that the water gets hot enough – it should be able to reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit after three minutes of running.
Appliances & cabinets – are they damaged, inoperable, or missing parts?
HVAC system – can it heat the room to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit? Make sure the exhaust pipe is properly connected and the area is kept clear.
Fire protection – Are the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms working? Make sure there is a working alarm in your bedroom and at least one alarm in the common area.
Water heater – Is there sufficient water pressure? Make sure that water can get up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (after three minutes of running) and keep the area clear.
Infestation – Look for signs of rodents, bed bugs, roaches, fleas, bees, or other pests.
Stairway – are the treads in good repair and secure? Check for trip hazards and an appropriate stair riser (or step height) on the stairs.
Balcony, deck, porch, patio, & landing – are the walking surfaces in good repair, smooth, and undamaged? Make sure support systems are anchored and functional.
Handrails & guardrails – are they in good repair and secure? Check that the rails are not cracked, loose, missing, incorrectly spaced, or lacking protective treatment.
Walls – are they in good condition? Make sure there is no damage and they have the proper trim, protective treatment, and remain weather tight to protect the inside.
Electrical fixtures – are they in good repair? Make sure any wiring is covered up.
Plumbing – is there a backflow preventer installed on the hose bib? Is there leaking? Check the clean-out covers and piping.
Roof – is the roof covering, soffit, and fascia all intact and in good repair? Make sure there are no leaks in the rain gutters or downspouts.
Fences, walls, sidewalks, parking surfaces & carports – Are they in good repair and undamaged? Check for potholes, trip hazards, and uneven walking surfaces.
Trash – Is there trash and rubbish around the property, overflowing dumpsters? Check if there is old furniture, tires, or junk outside of the dumpster.
Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of potential code issues, rather these are some common issues that code inspectors check for during an inspection. If you have questions, please contact Code Connect at 512-974-2633 (CODE).
- 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.
- Businesses and Industry
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.
- Construction Without a Permit
Property owners or their agents must get a permit to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, demolish or move a structure. In addition, they must get a permit to change the use of a structure (for example, to change a residence into an office). View permits issued by the City.
- Dangerous Structures
Dangerous structures must be made safe or demolished. Dangerous conditions include potential structural failure, exposed electrical wiring, heavy fire damage and abandoned, open structures. Vacant buildings must be adequately secured by fencing and/or boarding. The City of Austin enforces the Uniform Housing Code and the Dangerous Building Code to regulate dangerous structures.
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.
- Fire-Damaged Buildings
Code enforcement is notified of structure fires and sends an investigator to assess the damage and ensure the building is adequately secured. Buildings must either be repaired or demolished to meet code standards.
- 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.
- 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.
- Housing in Substandard Condition
Landlords are obligated to maintain their rental properties to the minimum standards set by the Uniform Housing Code and the Dangerous Building Code. Examples of violations include heating problems, plumbing problems, electrical problems, lack of weather protection and structural hazards.
- Illegal Dumping
You may not dump garbage or unwanted items. There are several landfills in the Austin area where you may dispose of items that you no longer want for a fee. 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.
- Junk and Accumulated Rubbish
Austin residents may not accumulate garbage, rubbish, brush, filth, carrion or any other unsightly, objectionable or unwholesome matter on their property. In addition, you may not store any material on a vacant lot.
- Mobile Vendor on Private Property
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.
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. A permit is required for a permanent sign, such as a business sign. The City of Austin does not regulate the content of billboards.
The City has a sign ordinance (Chapter 25-10 Sign Regulations) that regulates all signs, including political campaign signs. View the Bandit Signs FAQ flyer (PDF 3MB) to learn more about bandit signs.
- 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.
- Storage of Vehicles
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 the Austin Police Department by calling 3-1-1, downloading and submitting using the 3-1-1 Mobile App or by submitting an APD Vehicle Abatement Report using the 3-1-1 Web Form.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weeds or Grass Over 12 Inches
Grass and weeds must be less than 12 inches tall.