Can i be required to bring an entire home up to current code requirements if i pull a permit for something else?

I own a rental property. My previous tenant trashed the property and I hired a contractor to get the house into rent ready condition. It was about 5k of mostly cosmetic work. He said to do the job he needs to pull permits. For example, to refinish the countertops he needs to remove the sink which requires a permit. This makes sense to me. He called yesterday and told me that Center Point has recently decided to institute a new policy that if a permit is pulled, the entire home needs to be brought up to current construction code wAhich means this 5k job might be 20k or more. I reached out to my property manager out there and they confirmed that this is the new policy for Center Point. To me this just does not seem right. For example, the framing is over 60 years old. I am assuming that the grade of lumber used 60 years ago doesn’t comply with the current code. Should I be forced to tear down the entire home and

rebuild it? It just does not seem to be reasonable and almost seems like an illegal way for that city’s building department to help themselves out financially at the cost of the homeowners.

Asked on August 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If it is now an ordinance or law, it is legal unless you successfully challenge the law as being in some way illegal or unenforceable (e.g. not passed properly, so it is ineffective; in conflict with some other law or the state constitution) and win the challenge. Such challenges can be difficult and expensive and often do not work out--the presumption is that a law is valid, and so challenging it is an uphill battle. A good place to start is to have an attorney review the law in detail with you, so you can see what it really does mean for you and whether there are any exceptions that might help you. You can then decide whether to comply or challenge.


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