This page contains general information about code violations. For more detailed information or exact wording, consult Austin's Code of Ordinances. Report suspected violations by calling 3-1-1 or filing a complaint online. Once filed, a service request will be created for code enforcement, and the matter will be investigated.
Adult-oriented businesses, like all businesses, must be located in the appropriate zone. In addition, they must not be located within 1,000 feet of a church, school, public park, public playground, licensed daycare or a lot where another adult-oriented business is located. You may not run an adult-oriented business from your home.
Property owners or their agents must get a permit to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, demolish or move a structure. In addition, they must get a permit to change the use of a structure (for example, to change a residence into an office). View permits issued by the City.
Dangerous structures must be made safe or demolished. Dangerous conditions include potential structural failure, exposed electrical wiring, heavy fire damage and abandoned, open structures. Vacant buildings must be adequately secured by fencing and/or boarding. The City of Austin enforces the Uniform Housing Code and the Dangerous Building Code to regulate dangerous structures.
Fences must be in sound condition and at an appropriate height. On a corner lot, fences must not block the view of traffic at the intersection. In residential areas, solid fences may not be more than 6 feet tall with two exceptions:
If the fence is around a pool or another hazard and if permission from all adjoining neighbors is filed with the City, then a residential fence may be 8 feet tall.
If the fence is between a residence and a commercial property, it may be 8 feet tall.
Code enforcement is notified of structure fires and sends an investigator to assess the damage and ensure the building is adequately secured. Buildings must either be repaired or demolished to meet code standards.
A garage sale may not be held at the same property more than four days per calendar year or at a property participating in a residential tour (Residential Tours, Section 25-2-902). More than four garage sales per calendar year is a violation of the City Code and is considered a home-based business (Home Occupation, Section 25-2-900). In addition, signs advertising the garage sale may only be posted on the property where the sale is occurring for no more than three consecutive days.
Garbage Carts Left at the Curb
Garbage carts must be returned to their storage area on private property by 10 p.m. on the designated collection day. They should be placed at the curb by 6:30 a.m. on collection day but not prior to 8 p.m. the evening before.
Housing in Substandard Condition
Landlords are obligated to maintain their rental properties to the minimum standards set by the Uniform Housing Code and the Dangerous Building Code. Examples of violations include heating problems, plumbing problems, electrical problems, lack of weather protection and structural hazards.
You may not dump garbage or unwanted items. There are several landfills in the Austin area where you may dispose of items that you no longer want for a fee. Code enforcement pursues two goals with illegal dumping - ensuring the dump site is cleaned up and catching the perpetrator. If caught, offenders may be required to clean up the dump site and pay a fine. However, cleaning up the dump site is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner.
Junk and Accumulated Rubbish
Austin residents may not accumulate garbage, rubbish, brush, filth, carrion or any other unsightly, objectionable or unwholesome matter on their property. In addition, you may not store any material on a vacant lot.
Home businesses are highly regulated. Businesses that cannot be run from home include auto repair shops, contractor's yards, adult-oriented businesses and retail businesses. You also may not store commercial vehicles at your home.
You may not post a sign in the right of way or on public property. In residential areas, you may post the following signs on private property temporarily:
Garage or yard sale signs
Neighborhood meeting signs
Real estate signs
Off-premise signs are prohibited. For example, a garage sale sign can only be placed where the sale is taking place, or a house for sale sign can only be placed on the property where the house is being sold. In non-residential areas, all signs must be on private property. A permit is required for a permanent sign, such as a business sign. The City of Austin does not regulate the content of billboards.
Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Property owners must drain stagnant water on their properties. Typical sources of stagnant water include pools in disrepair, tires and buckets.
Storage of Vehicles
There are a number of regulations that concern the storage of vehicles in a residential area.
There must not be more vehicles stored at a residence than there are licensed drivers. Additional vehicles must be in the garage.
All vehicles must be functional, with the exception of antique vehicles or recreational vehicles. One vehicle under repair for less than 60 days is allowed.
Residents may keep two antique or recreational vehicles, such as a boat or RV, screened behind a 6-foot wood or masonry fence.
Only one commercial vehicle (with a capacity less than one ton) may be stored at a residence.
Swimming pools in residential areas must be enclosed by an approved fence. In addition, swimming pools must be maintained to prevent them from holding stagnant water. The City of Austin's Health and Human Services Department regulates public pools and pools at apartments, hotels and motels.
Tree Limbs Blocking Right of Way
Property owners must trim trees that hang over the street. There must be at least 14 feet of clearance at the curb line. The Public Works Department handles trees that fall and block the right of way.