When can a municipality force a homeowner to tear down his house?

UPDATED: Sep 11, 2011

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When can a municipality force a homeowner to tear down his house?

A house was damaged by a hurricane and the town demanded that the house be torn down at the owners expense. There was no option to fix or rebuild. The demand came with a 48 hour deadline.

Asked on September 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If there is a significant health and safety reason for tearing down the house, there usually must be some sort of court order to force the matter. So the municipality sent you an order or a letter. Look at exactly what you have. It may be an issue that there is so much structural damage that a repair or rebuild is not sufficient or effective but keep in mind you need to review the enforceability of what you received. It doesn't appear that the town had enough time to get a court order to do this so either speak to the municipality of what you received or immediately talk to your homeowner's insurance company to see if it would have counsel to represent you or consult with your attorney who specializes in government administrative actions.

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