What options do i have for a notice of violation for non permitted work i did not do?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What options do i have for a notice of violation for non permitted work i did not do?

I bought my home in April of 2001 and at that time the property had a garage conversion done to create another entertainment room and a patio covering. The original appraisal and loan docs show it in a diagram and has written details describing the work when I bought the home. Last June, my neighbor who I have had issues with for noise and barking dogs decided to retaliate by filing a complaint with the city for the garage and patio not having a permit filed with the city for the work done. An inspector came out, took pictures, and later contacted me with a notice of violation for being non permitted. As far as I knew there were no issues of permits not being filed with the city when I bought the property. I had a contractor come out to give me advice on building options and he conveyed to me that all the years of dealing with the city that they do not have a good records keeping of city permits over the years and it is limited when the updated the permits on computers. So there is a possibility that the work was permitted at the time of construction but the city may not have the records for it. Contractor also stated that the additions have been there for a long time by the look of it. My options with the city is to pay for the permits and have the patio and garage re-inspected or tear down the wall in the garage and patio. The fees for the patio alone is over 1000 and the city requires another garaging option on premises to keep the conversion if approved. Simply, what are my options of recourse since I did not do the work and was unaware of the permits not being filed at the time of construction when I bought my house?

Asked on December 3, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you do not have any options over than to pay for the permits and meet whatever permitting requirements the city has, or else tear down the contruction. Not knowing about the permitting issue, not being the one who did the work, etc. is not a defense: whoever the homeowner currently is, no matter how or when the work was done or by  by whom, is responsble for compliance and is liable for non-permitted work. The situation is very unfair, but that's the way the law is: you, as the current homeowner, must resolve the issue, and it is far too late (too many years; the statute of limitations has long passed) to sue the seller for his failure to address the issue (e.g. get the permits).

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