Code Enforcement Explained

What does Code Enforcement do?

The purpose of the Department of Code Enforcement is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare related to existing structures. The department administers and enforces the International Property Maintenance Code. Which includes regulation of the following:
  • Minimum housing standards for existing residential structures, and related environmental conditions which may contribute to deterioration and devaluation of properties in the community
  • Abandoned commercial structures
  • Storage of inoperable or abandoned vehicles on public and private property

The Process

Depending on the type of violation, and because these violations involve private property, there are standard procedures that we are legally obligated to follow. Once a complaint is received from 311 or identified by an Inspector, an investigation is conducted to assess the violation, determine property ownership and to research past violations at the property. If warranted, the Inspector will then issue a Notice to Correct Violation to the property owner.
After a Notice to Correct Violation is issued for structural or environmental conditions, follow-up inspections are conducted to determine if compliance has been met. The owner must contact the Department of Code Enforcement to discuss the needed repairs and arrange a plan of action to meet compliance. Follow-up inspections are then done to determine if compliance has been met. Depending on the circumstances and severity, the department can then opt to:
  • Give an extension to meet compliance
  • Cite the owner to court
  • Issue an order to vacate the premises
  • Issue an order to not occupy the property until repairs are made
  • Refer the property to Condemnation
Should the owner fail to meet compliance specifications, court action can be initiated at any time after the first follow-up inspection. The department utilizes the General Sessions Environmental Court to resolve cases where the violator has failed to comply.
In some situations, the inspector may refer dangerous structures to the Condemnation Department. The condemnation procedures begin with a title search. Once the title search is done, all appropriate parties are notified by certified mail that a condemnation hearing will be held.  If the structure is condemned, all interested parties are notified again by certified mail of the Order of condemnation and the intent to demolish. If the property is demolished by the City, the amount of the demolition is assessed against the property taxes where the structure was located.
Abandoned Vehicles
When a violation order is issued for an inoperable vehicle, a follow-up inspection is conducted in 14 calendar days. If the owner fails to repair, remove or place the vehicle in a lawful storage place after 14 calendar days, the vehicle may be impounded to the City storage lot or legal action can be taken. Impounded vehicles may be reclaimed from the City of Memphis Vehicle storage lot (353-8200) by paying the towing and storage fees.


To track a violation through the process to compliance, code enforcement inspectors use specific codes within the service request to denote progress. Below is a glossary of codes you will find throughout the data and their associated definitions.