What Is A Condemned House? Guide For Owners & Tenants

by | May 10, 2024

This guide is for three groups of people:

  1. You’re a tenant living in a home you believe should be condemned.
  2. You’re a landlord who owns a property that’s recently been condemned
  3. Your primary residence was condemned, and you want to know what to do.

What Is A Condemned House?

A condemned house is a property the government or local authority deems uninhabitable and unsafe.. The government will likely shut down the utilities to prevent occupancy, and if the house is considered an extreme enough hazard, it will be demolished. With the necessary repairs, the government can condemn a house.

Another time the government will condemn a house is when they seize a property through eminent domain. Through eminent domain, the government can forcibly take a property in exchange for compensation.

Condemnation Process

The process for having a home condemned varies between states. We’ll share the Massachusetts process to give all readers a general idea.

  • Inspection: A property may be inspected by building inspectors, health inspectors, or fire safety officials, depending on the nature of the issue. These inspectors evaluate whether the building complies with local and state building codes, health regulations, and fire safety standards.
  • Violation Notice: If the inspectors find that the building does not meet the necessary standards, a violation notice is issued to the property owner. This notice outlines the specific problems and the required corrective actions.
  • Time to Comply: The property owner is given a certain period to address the issues highlighted in the violation notice. The timeframe depends on the severity of the violations and the specific regulations of the local jurisdiction.
  • Re-inspection: After the compliance period, the property is re-inspected to ensure that all necessary repairs and modifications have been made. If the owner has failed to comply, further action is taken.
  • Order of Condemnation: If the property still fails to meet the required standards, an order of condemnation can be issued. This order declares the building unfit for occupation and may require the building to be vacated and possibly demolished.
  • Appeal Process: Property owners typically have the right to appeal against the condemnation order through administrative or legal channels.

This process ensures that all buildings meet safety and health standards to protect residents and the community. Each town or city may have specific procedures, so it’s important to consult local regulations for precise information.

Reasons Homes Are Condemned

    • Structural Damage: Homes can be condemned if significant structural damage compromises their stability and safety. Common issues include foundational cracks, severe roof or wall collapse, and damage from natural disasters like earthquakes or floods that make the building unsafe to inhabit.
    • Fire Damage: After a severe fire, a building may sustain extensive damage to critical structural components, electrical systems, and other essential services. If the damage is too extensive to ensure safe habitation, the building can be condemned until proper repairs are made.
    • Mold Infestation: Extensive mold growth can lead to health hazards, particularly respiratory issues. Homes heavily infested with mold, especially toxic varieties, may be condemned if the infestation is widespread and poses significant health risks to occupants.
    • Asbestos: Older homes that contain asbestos materials can be condemned if they degrade and become airborne. When inhaled, asbestos is a health hazard, leading to serious illnesses such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.
    • Chemical Contamination: Homes can be condemned due to chemical contamination from internal sources like illegal drug labs or external sources like industrial spills. Such contamination can make living conditions unsafe due to toxic exposure risks.
    • Utility Failures: A prolonged lack of essential utilities such as water, electricity, or heating, especially during extreme weather conditions, can lead to a home being condemned. These utilities are essential for safe and healthy living conditions.
    • Pest Infestation: Severe infestations of pests such as rodents, cockroaches, or termites can lead to health hazards and structural damage. If pest control efforts fail and the infestation becomes uncontrollable, the property may be condemned.
    • Code Violations: Persistent code violations, including illegal building modifications or failure to adhere to safety standards, can result in a home being condemned. This is especially likely if the violations pose direct risks to safety or health.
    • Foundation Issues: In 2023, floodwaters created a massive sinkhole that collapsed a family’s yard in Leominster, threatening their home’s foundation. 

    Rights Of Condemned Homeowners

    The owner of a condemned property has the right to contest the condemnation, be present at the decision hearing, and know the reason for condemnation.

    My Apartment Is Being Condemned

    Proper owners aren’t the only people affected by condemnation. The first thing we recommend is getting a good renters insurance policy. Read your policy and consult with an attorney while you make a claim. Do this so you can find out what it covers and if it covers temporary living expenses.

    Secondly, any lease agreement will state that you’re owed a habitable unit if you hold up your end of the bargain. Figure out the steps you need to take, like providing written notice to your landlord.

    How Do You Get A House Condemned?

    Ok… Let’s pump the brakes a bit. Condemning a house is wrong if you’re looking for revenge or to settle a neighborly squabble. However, if you think you have a legitimate claim, call your local government to determine who you need to notify. In most municipalities, that would be your fire marshal.

    How Do You Sell A Condemned House?

    If you own a condemned property, you basically have three choices.

    1. Make the necessary repairs
    2. Demolish the property
    3. Sell the property As-Is

    In the majority of cases, you’re on your own when it comes to paying for repairs or the cost to demo a property. If you want to go the sell route, you have to understand that the property will not sell at its peak value.

    Another thing…

    The majority of buyers want a move-in-ready home. Obviously, a condemned property doesn’t meet that standard. Because of the decreased buyer pool, whoever bids on your property will have leverage at the negotiation table.

    Companies like New England Home Buyers can help you take the headache of owning a condemned home away. If you can’t afford to make the repairs on your home, we’ll buy your property quickly and renovate it for you.

    Get One-on-One Guidance

    Contact us below or call (978) 228-1068 to speak with us about selling your home fast.

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    Elie Deglaoui - Author


    Elie Deglaoui

    Elie is our office admin who handles all our day-to-day tasks and makes sure we always stay on track. He brings his love of music and sports into the office everyday to always liven up the environment. His outgoing personality makes it easy and fun for him to talk to homeowners, homebuyers, and everyone in between.

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