Is there a statute of limitations on how long code enforcement has to take action against a property owner for building an unpermitted structure that they are living in on their own land?

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Is there a statute of limitations on how long code enforcement has to take action against a property owner for building an unpermitted structure that they are living in on their own land?

A family I know has lived in an unpermitted house for almost 10 years. They added on to a small cabin that was on their property for years before that. They get power from a remote electric service on their property that was put there for an irrigation pump; electric service was permitted and inspected. They have raised

their children there without issue from the county or as far as I know complaints from neighbors to the county about the structure. It isn’t visible from the road; it is in a rural area. They are here as a result of some pretty devastating financial issues from 10 years ago. The father is in construction and had a lot of salvaged

material he used and basically they did it because they could not afford rent and had nowhere to go with their children. All kids are on their own now but one. Their situation has improved greatly and they are trying to decide the next move. They are happy but fear reprisal at some point if they stay.

Asked on January 16, 2019 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no statute of limitations for this because it is a continuing violation: until the structure is properly permitted (which may involved substantial changes to the structure, if not demolition and rebuilding it, and inspection), the structure is illegal. Because it remains illegal until made legal, code enforcement may take action at any time.


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