Code Violation FAQs

A code violation is an act that is not permitted or inconsistent with the City of Gainesville's code of ordinances. Below you will find common examples of what typically constitutes a code violation in the City of Gainesville. A link to the full code of ordinances can be found at the right hand side of the page.

Examples of Violations include:

Chapter 13 -Proper maintenance of existing structures and yards, including but not limited to:

  • Interior and exterior walls
  • Floors, windows, and exterior doors
  • Roof
  • Stairs, porches, and appurtenances
  • Accessory structures (including fences and walls)
  • Water heater, heat pump (or room heater), smoke detectors
  • Bathroom and kitchen fixtures
  • Electrical, lighting, and plumbing systems
  • Hazardous conditions such as improper storage of junk, trash, debris, and/or garbage on private property, overgrown vegetation, abandoned vehicles and swimming pools.

Chapter 14.5 - Residential Rental Unit Ordinance. See the rental housing ordinance page for more information.  

Chapter 16 - Allowing Dangerous Buildings or Hazardous Lands, Perilous Lands, or Mosquito Breeding Grounds

Chapter 26 -Abandoned and dangerous vehicles 

Chapter 30– Land Development Code including but not limited to:

  • Over-occupancy, off-street parking, residential leases, and home occupation permits
  • Environmental Management
  • Sign Regulations
  • Vision Triangles

Can I have political signs in my yard?

The following sign regulations are contained in the City Code of Ordinances:

Residential Districts:
Section 30-9.5 (a) of the Code of Ordinances allows temporary signs on residential zoned properties as follows:

  • No electrical parts or usage unless ULI listed
  • Signs cannot exceed 6 square feet.
  • Maximum height is 4 feet on single family properties, 8 feet for multi-family properties which includes apartment complexes.
  • Multi-family properties can have a maximum number of 6 signs per property total including their own.
  • Setback must be 10 feet from side property lines

Non-residential Districts:
Section 30-9.5(a) of the Code of Ordinances allows temporary signs on non-residential zoned properties as follows:

  • Signs cannot exceed 32 square feet with a maximum height of 8 feet.
  • Setback must be 10 feet from side property lines
  • The maximum number of signs is 4 per property including their own

Non-residential Districts:
Section 30-9.5(a) of the Code of Ordinances allows temporary signs on non-residential zoned
properties as follows:

  • Signs cannot exceed 32 square feet with a maximum height of 8 feet.
  • Setback must be 10 feet from side property lines
  • The maximum number of signs is 4 per property including their own

Public Right of Way:
No sign is permitted on any public right-of-way per Section 30-9.4(a) (3) of the Code of Ordinances. Such signs are subject to removal and disposal by the City of Gainesville without notice or compensation. Parties responsible for the placement of these signs are subject to Civil Citations.

Public right-of-way generally includes medians, roundabouts, and the land adjacent to streets that include public infrastructure (utility poles, water meters, traffic signal boxes, utility boxes, sidewalks, etc.).

Vision Triangle Obstructions:
Signage should be posted on private property, away from intersections so as to not impede the view of oncoming traffic.

Removal of Signs:
The City of Gainesville requires removal of signs in no more than 10 calendar days after the election.

Irrigation and Water Management Issues

We are in the St. Johns River Water Management District. The City of Gainesville has no ordinance concerning lawn irrigation times and days. We have no authority to enforce the St. Johns water districts rules; however, they do follow up on complaints. Please see their website for rules and FAQs.

What to do if you receive a Notice of Violation

  • Find out how to correct the problem and do so promptly.
  • You can ask for additional time(PDF, 106KB) in order to correct the violations. Remember, proper permits may be required for some repairs.
  • If you are unwilling to take prompt action to correct the problems, there are several possible consequences.
  • The City can arrange for compliance and bill the owner of the property for the cost. If legal action becomes necessary, you will be served a notice to appear before the Code Enforcement Board. You must explain your case, and ultimately correct the violations in order to avoid fines and liens.
  • Remember: the Code Enforcement team is here to help. Working together will prevent blight in our neighborhoods and throughout the City, and further influence and enhance the quality of life in our City.
  • You can reach the Code Enforcement Division at (352) 334-5030, during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM).

Who's Responsible for Yard Maintenance Standards?

Yard maintenance standards are the responsibility of every property owner, occupant, tenant, or resident and include the maintenance of plant material in any right-of-way abutting the property.

What information should be provided when filing a complaint?

The Code Enforcement Officer needs the most detailed information available in order to accurately assess the complaint. The following information is recommended when reporting a possible violation:

  • Address of violation
  • If no address is visible, is there an address north, south, east, or west of the house/parcel that can be provided?
  • Description of house or property
  • Violations suspected described in detail
  • If you suspect that the address is a rental property, please specify.

Although the complaint may be valid, it may be the responsibility of another department. The officer will determine if the complaint is better served by another department and will determine the most appropriate method of gaining compliance. Follow-up contact will be provided if requested, assuming that the complaint is not anonymous.

What happens after a complaint is filed?

The Code Enforcement Officer visits the property to verify the complaint and documents the violation with photographs.

  • If a violation is found, a Notice of Violation is sent to the property owner, or in some cases a written warning is issued stating the violation and specifying how long they have to remedy the violation.
  • The City may take immediate court action if the situation poses a significant risk to the community or if the individual has been found guilty of a similar violation within the previous 5 years.
  • If action is not taken to remedy the violation, the case may be referred to a Code Enforcement Board for a hearing, or a citation will be issued and a fine levied.

What to do about Mold?

In Florida, mold is an issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides a guide on clean up and prevention of residential mold. Their website is

For mold inspections, contact the Alachua County Department of Environmental Health directly at (352) 334-7930.

How many chickens are allowed in the City of Gainesville?

Effective November 21, 2013, Sec.30-124, the keeping of chickens is allowed by right as an accessory use to any single-family dwelling in the following residential zone districts: RSF-1, RSF-2, RSF-3, RSF-4, and RC; subject to the following conditions:

  1. No more than ten (10) chickens are allowed;
  2. Roosters of any age and generally characterized by an ability to crow) and any other crowing chickens are prohibited;
  3. Chickens shall at all times be kept in the rear yard in either a fenced area or covered enclosure;
  4. Covered enclosures shall meet the setback requirements for an accessory structure in the applicable zoning district;
  5. Feed shall be kept in rodent-proof and raccoon-proof enclosed containers;
  6. The area in which the chickens are kept shall be maintained in a sanitary condition, including the regular removal of chicken manure;
  7. Odors from chicken-keeping shall not be detectable at property boundaries, and
  8. Chicken products and/or by-products shall not be sold on the property.

How does code compliance work?

  • A citizen can report a complaint by calling the Code Enforcement Department at (352) 334-5030. A staff member will take information regarding the location and nature of the violation.
  • You can expedite the handling of your complaint by having the correct address of the property at the time of your call.
  • The inspector assigned to the area will conduct an inspection of the property within 48 - 72 hours of your complaint. If it is determined that a violation exists, the inspector may issues a notice of violation or, depending on the nature of the violation, work with the individuals responsible for the property for a brief period of time to achieve compliance.

What penalties result from code violations?

In many cases, the individual responsible for the code violation is given the opportunity to voluntarily correct the situation and comply with current codes without a penalty. If the correction is not made, then the individual may be subject to fines of up to $1000.00 per day per violation for a first time offense and up to $5000.00 per day per violation for a repeat offense, and the city shall be entitled to recover all costs incurred in prosecuting the case before the board. If the board finds the violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature, it may impose a fine up to $15,000.00 per violation.

How to check your property?


  • Repair rotted wood, broken or missing boards, siding or shingles and make all exterior parts weather tight, rodent proof and sound. Exteriors must be resistant to water and be covered with paint, siding, or be constructed of some other non-decaying material that is in good condition.
  • Inspect: exterior walls roof parts including rafters, soffit, fascia roof covering railings on stairs, elevated landings and porches fences (should be in good repair and legal height)
  • Keep housing safe, sanitary, in good repair and maintain a pest control program to eliminate harmful insects or rodents.
  • Inspect both interior and exterior walls, ceilings and floors and repair any structural problem and holes that could allow access to rodents or insects.
  • Inspect plumbing pipes and fixtures for leaks and make repairs as necessary.
  • Check water heaters pressure temperature valves to insure functionality and that relief vents are unobstructed.
  • Inspect electrical systems to insure proper fuse sizes, replace any cracked or missing receptacle/switch plates and repair any non-functional light fixtures.
  • Make sure that address numbers are a minimum of 3 ½" in height and contrast with the color of the building.
  • Check to insure garbage is properly disposed of.
  • Inspect your yard to insure that there are no areas where stagnant water collects and breeds mosquitoes.

Yard Maintenance

  • Mow the lawn so that grass is twelve inches or less in height.
  • Inspect to insure that debris such as plastic containers, used tires, building materials, non-operational vehicles and other materials that devalue the appearance of your yard are not present.

What is an inoperative or abandoned motor vehicle and where can one be parked?

Broken down cars

An inoperative or abandoned motor vehicle cannot be stored in the open. An inoperative or abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that does not display a current license tag and/or is not equipped with all parts that are required to legally and safely operate on public streets and/or cannot be driven under its own power (whether or not designed for use on the public streets).

Is junk, trash and debris a violation?

Pile of trash

Junk, trash and debris cannot be left in the yard and must be properly disposed of. This includes junk, auto parts, appliances, furniture, building materials, tires, trash such as discarded paper, cardboard, plastics, cups, cans bottles, etc: and debris such as tree trimmings, and fallen limbs and tree trunks.

Residential Parking in the University Context Area

For residentially zoned properties or lots located in the University of Florida Comprehensive Master Plan Context Area, parking of vehicles, including trucks under 10,000 lbs., cars, trailers, motorcycles, and scooters, is only permitted on an approved driveway, in a garage, or in a carport. A drive or parking area must be constructed with approved parking surfaces and borders. There are limits to the amount of yard area that can be used for a driveway or parking in the University Context Area(PDF, 873KB). Check with the Code Enforcement Department at (352) 334-5030 for more information about legally recognized parking areas.

What is an illegal dwelling unit?

Dwelling units that have been added to the interior or the exterior of a structure without proper permits are illegal, regardless of how long the units have existed. The City will require closure of such illegal units.

What can be stored out of doors?

Outdoor storage is prohibited unless the Development Review Board approves it for a particular portion of a commercial property. Generally, any equipment, materials, or furnishings that would ordinarily not be used outdoors may not be stored outdoors. For example, you may not keep indoor furniture, household appliances, auto parts, or building materials outside.

What businesses are allowed in residential areas?

Most businesses are not allowed to operate in residential areas as they disrupt residents and the community. This means that car and boat repairs, construction of cabinets and furniture, and other activities that are not normally carried on in a residential district are prohibited. Remember, engaging in a business requires a business tax and a Home Occupation Permit. If you need information on permitted home occupations please call the Code Enforcement Department at (352) 334-5030.

How should commercial buildings be maintained?

Generally, commercial buildings must be maintained. Buildings must be painted, windows replaced if broken. Down spouts must be in good repair and functional as well as any canopies or accessory components of the building. Commercial sites must be kept clear of debris and non-operational vehicles.

Who is responsible for the maintenance of a structure?

The maintenance of a structure is the responsibility of the property owner. Any wood, siding, shingles, roof covering, railings, fences, walls, ceilings, porches, doors, windows and screens, and other exterior parts of a structure must be maintained in weather tight, rodent proof, sound condition and good repair. The property owner is responsible for maintaining secure windows, doors or other openings that cannot be readily opened from the outside. An owner may need to board up a vacant structure if a break-in occurs. Security boards should be made of exterior grade plywood painted in a neutral color that blends inconspicuously with the exterior of the building.

Is your back yard party friendly?

As summer approaches, the City of Gainesville is urging homeowners to take the time to check their outdoor areas for potential safety hazards. Proper inspections now can help to keep your family and friends safe in the future. The International Code Council, a membership organization dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.

Porches, Decks and Balconies
Porches can be at risk of collapsing if they are not properly constructed or if they are old. A common safety hazard occurs when porches are nailed to buildings rather than being attached with the proper anchors or bolts. Nails are a poor method for attaching porches to buildings because they work their way loose over time. Other safety hazards to look for are:

* Split or rotting wood
* Wobbly handrails or guardrails
* Loose, missing or rusting anchors, nails or screws
* Missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking
* Poor end support of the porch deck, joists or girders
* Excessive movement of the porch when walked on
*Swaying or unstable porches

Building or repairing to code, which requires a building permit and an inspection, will help ensure that the porch is safe. The International Codes specify the amount of weight a porch is required to support. However, be careful not to allow the porch to become overcrowded. If the people on the structure have difficulty moving about, the porch could be exceeding its capacity.

Grilling on or near combustible areas can be a fire hazard. It not only puts your family and visitors at risk, but, especially in condos and apartment buildings, can put your neighbors in danger as well. The most common grilling hazards are open flames and heat generated in the grill base that can be transferred to the wood of a porch or the home's siding, causing a fire. When grilling, follow these safety tips:

* Place the grill away from siding, deck railings and out from
under eaves and overhanging branches
* Periodically remove grease or fat buildup
* Use only proper starter fluid and store the can away from heat
* Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use
* Do not move hot grills
* Dispose of charcoal properly, keeping ash containers outside and away from combustible construction

The 2003 International Fire Code prohibits the use of charcoal and gas grills and other open burning devices on combustible porches or within 10 feet of combustible construction. There are exceptions for certain homes and where buildings and porches are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

Swimming Pools
Because they can be attractive — and dangerous — to young children, in-ground and above-ground pools should be surrounded by a fence or other barrier. Small, inflatable pools must also be protected. The International Building Code states that any pool with more than 24 inches of water has to have a four-foot fence or other barrier around it. Any gates in the fence must be self-closing and self-latching. Other things to consider when installing a pool:

* Building permit requirements
* Zoning requirements
* Electrical clearances and utility easements
* Insurance policies

The City of Gainesville provides minimum standards to help communities protect lives and property. Before conducting any type of work on your home, contact your local building department to determine what permits are needed and what codes must be followed.

What are the Enforcement procedures?

The city is divided into geographic areas with a Code Enforcement Officer assigned to each one. Each officer is responsible for violations occurring within his/her assigned area. Generally, the enforcement of codes occurs on both a reactive (complaint from a community source) and a proactive (initiated by the officer) basis. When a code violation is reported, we open a complaint and work towards resolving the violation through a process of education, inspection, and notices. Continued violations are followed by progressive enforcement.

Code officers respond to complaints according to the impact of the violation on the community. Situations that appear to pose a serious risk to health and safety are given top priority; others are pursued in the order in which they are received. A maximum of 2 days is allowed by policy for a code officer to respond to a complaint.

How to contact us?

Phone: (352) 334-5030

Fax:(352) 334-2239

Mail: Code Enforcement Department
P.O. Box 490, Station 10A
Gainesville, FL 32627

Walk-in: Thomas Center B
306 NE 6th Avenue, Room 158
Gainesville, FL

Can I submit an anonymous complaint?

No. All complainants must provide their full name and address per state Statute.