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PLI: CODE ENFORCEMENT

Code Enforcement

The purpose of the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections Code Enforcement is to protect the health, safety, and welfare in existing buildings and structures. PLI enforces the International Property Maintenance Code as adopted by the City of Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances Title 10 Chapter 1004. PLI is also responsible for enforcing the Zoning Code – Title Nine.

Understanding Notices of Violation

Many inspections originate from requests called, texted, tweeted or electronically submitted to the 311 Response Center. These requests are anonymous and each request prompts an inspection.

Once an inspector receives a request, it follows a standardized process developed to ensure legal notice and a reasonable compliance period is given to property owners where violations may exist. See workflow chart.

If you receive a notice of violation and wish to speak to an inspector, please call their direct number located on the letter you received in the mail.

If you must leave a voicemail, the inspectors will make every effort to call you back as quickly as possible. Please give them a day to respond. Once you reach an inspector, you will be able to discuss any violations or schedule an appointment to meet with the inspector at the property in violation.

If you do not respond to the Notice of Violation and do not comply with the notice, the inspector will do a second inspection and send a second notice. The property owner, again, has the opportunity to reach out to the inspector and bring their property into compliance.

After a third and final inspection, the inspector will be prompted to submit court documents to the local magistrate in order to achieve compliance. Once the magistrate receives the paperwork, they will schedule a hearing and send hearing documents to the property owner of record. At the hearing, it will be the property owner’s responsibility to prove that their property is not in violation.

Violations

Types of Violations PLI Enforces

  • Weeds and/or debris on a property
  • Abandoned vehicles on private property only
  • Sidewalks that are a tripping hazard
  • Electrical Violations
  • Building Violations

Violations Enforced by Other City Departments

Police Bureau

  • Abandoned vehicles in the Public Right of Way

Animal Control

  • Any issues involving animals

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA)

  • Sewer or catch basins

City Planning

  • Residential parking issues

Public Works

  • Snow and ice removal
  • Potholes

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file a complaint?

Call 311 Response Center at 311 or 412-255-2621 or file an electronic complaint form. After complaint is filed with 311, it is forwarded to the PLI Code Enforcement Inspectors or responsible department.

How can I determine who owns the property?

You can use the Allegheny County Real Estate Website to find the owner of record for a property. Please note that PLI is not responsible for the accuracy of content on websites external to the City of Pittsburgh site.

What can PLI do about vacant properties owned by the URA or the City?

If there is a violation with City Ordinances, the city or the URA will be cited. Steps will be taken to raze or clean and secure the building, whichever is applicable.

I received a notice of violation for my sidewalk but it is uplifted by a City tree, what do I do?

If a City tree is uplifting the sidewalk in front of your property, the property owner is responsible to fix the sidewalk. The Forestry department will prune the tree prior to the replacement of the sidewalk. Please review the proper procedure here.

Clean and Lien

Once a property owner has been notified of an overgrowth or debris violation and does not bring the property into compliance, the City of Pittsburgh reserves the right to enter onto the property and take the necessary steps to remove the weeds or debris and place a lien on the property. This is referred to as a “clean and lien”.

The Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections issues the order to the Department of Public Works after the third and final inspection of a property. Once Public Works receives the order, they send a crew out to clean up the property.

If you have received a letter in the mail stating the City has placed a lien on your property, please contact the Finance Department at 412-255-2582 to discuss payment options.

If you believe this lien has occurred in error, please contact the Law Department at 412-255-2010

Top 10 Code Violations

The following codes are our most common violations. The first 7 are from the International Property Maintenance Code as adopted by the City of Pittsburgh and amended in the Code of Ordinance Chapter 1004.

Vacant Structures and land – 301.3
“All vacant structures and premises thereof or vacant land shall be maintained in a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition as provided herein so as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety.”

Sidewalks and Driveways – 302.3
“All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions.”

Weeds – 302.4
“All premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant growth I excess of 10 inches. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited. Weeds shall be defined as grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees and shrubs provided; however, this term shall not include cultivated flowers and gardens.”

Deteriorated Fences/Retaining Walls – 302.7
“All accessory structures, including detached garages, fences and walls, shall be maintained structurally sound and in good repair.”

Junk Vehicles – 302.8
“”Except as provided for in other regulations, no inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. Painting of vehicles if prohibited unless conducted inside an approved spray booth.”

Roofs and Drainage – 304.7
“The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain. Roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior portion of the structure. Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions. Roof water shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.”

Debris – 307.1
All exterior property and premises, and the interior of every structure, shall be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.

The following two violations are part of the City of Pittsburgh Zoning Code Title 9

Hedges – 925.06A

  • Open ornamental fences, hedges, landscape architectural features or guard railings around depressed ramps, in any required yard or court, if, except when in a closed court, maintained at a height of not more than four (4) feet above the ground level adjacent thereto;
  • Fences or lattice-work screens or walls not more than six and one-half (6½) feet in height, or hedges or thick growth of shrubs, maintained so as not to exceed such height, in any required side or rear yard or court, provided they do not extend closer to a street than the buildable area of the lot. Barbed wire and razor edge are not permitted.”

Parking Pads – 922.02
“A Certificate of Occupancy shall be required for the lawful use or occupancy of all land, structures or premises, or parts thereof, in all of the following circumstances:
1. Major Excavation/Grading/Fill as defined in Chapter 911.02 (Use Table);
2. A new or changed use of land or new or changed use of structure except for the noncommercial cultivation of plants and plantings;
3. A structure hereafter erected, altered or enlarged except for the following:
(a) Interior renovation not undertaken for a change of use, including but not limited to painting, blown-in insulation, waterproofing, replacing kitchen or bathroom cabinets, and floor coverings such as carpet, vinyl and tile;
(b) Exterior renovation that does not alter the footprint or exterior dimensions of an existing structure, including but not limited to painting, the application of sheathing such as shingles and siding, and hanging gutters and downspouts;
(c) Concrete on grade, including but not limited to patios, steps and driveways, but not including vehicle parking areas;
(d) Steam cleaning or pointing bricks;

4. The erection, enlargement or reconstruction of a sign or sign structure, except signs that do not exceed four (4) square feet in area;
5. Continuation of a nonconforming use and/or nonconforming structure.”

Upholstered furniture prohibited outdoors – This violation is in Title 6 - Conduct

614.02/614.03 “The use, keeping or storage of any upholstered furniture manufactured primarily for indoor use, including but not limited to mattresses and box springs, sofas and chairs, shall be prohibited on any front, back or side yard or patio visible from any public or private place, sidewalk or highway./The use, keeping or storage of any upholstered furniture manufactured primarily for indoor use, including but not limited to mattresses and box springs, sofas and chairs, shall be prohibited on any front, back or side unenclosed porch, deck or balcony visible from any public or private place, sidewalk or highway.”