Citizens unanimously oppose fining new homeowners for old code violations - 127 participants

Oct 29, 2016

In Farmington, a family is facing possible fines of $550 per day from the town for code violations related to their new home, as the previous owners finished the attic and basement without proper permits. As a remedy, the family must return the attic and basement to an unfinished condition to allow for an inspection by a code enforcement officer or hire an engineer to certify it. According to the family, they were unaware of any code violations at the time of the purchase. Read more about this issue. On October 29, Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should towns be able to fine new homeowners for code violations incurred before they purchased the home?”

“Should towns be able to fine new homeowners for code violations incurred before they purchased the home?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Homeowner Code Violations New  Hampshire Citizen Voices Chart

Participation:

A total of 88% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 12% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, this question received 434 responses from 127 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

No: A unanimous majority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 100%, did not support fining new homeowners for code violations incurred before they purchased the home.

  • “The sellers should be held responsible for illegal changes and fined for not disclosing [them] before paperwork is signed.”
  • “Go after the offending party - the developer, the seller, whoever is responsible.”
  • “This has to be one of the most inane things I've seen. This is equivalent to charging the current homeowner with murder when they find a body hidden in the wall that was put there by the previous owner.”

Other: As noted above, 12% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Concerns regarding compliance with current codes: “Codes change all the time. Does that mean you are required to update the dwelling every time a code changes?”
  • Possible solutions to avoid such an issue: “Before you buy the house, hire an inspector who will point out any violations and you can ask the seller to fix them.”
  • Building codes in general: “There should be no codes. Do what you want with your property. It's no one's business.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should towns be able to fine new homeowners for code violations incurred before they purchased the home? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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