Condemnation Frequently Asked Questions
What is condemnation?
Condemnation is when a determination that a structure or piece of equipment has been determined to be unsafe to occupy or unsafe to use.
If my building is condemned, does that mean it will be demolished?
Barring other catastrophic circumstances, a condemned building rarely requires demolition. Typically condemnation means there are safety concerns that must be addressed, and upon completing the necessary repairs, condemnation can be removed and the building can be used again.
What are some reasons a building is condemned?
The City of DeKalb has presently adopted the 2015 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC). Within this code, section 108 contains criteria specific to condemnation and includes unsafe structures, unsafe equipment, structures unfit for human occupancy, structures that are unlawful (illegal conversions into unapproved uses), and dangerous structures which includes but is not limited to buildings damaged by flood, fire, neglect or where conditions present are likely to cause sickness or disease. Condemnation may also be applied to buildings with inadequate utilities to ensure sanitation, lighting and heating are provided (shut-off water, electricity, gas and sewer).
I don’t own the building, but rent/lease from the owner. What can I do in the meantime?
If you rent or lease a commercial tenant space, such as a restaurant or office storefront, your business will need to be closed until repairs are made to remediate the cause for condemnation. Depending on the severity of the building conditions, repairs could be made quickly such as temporary shoring, restoring utilities, or replacing a malfunctioning piece of equipment like a bad furnace.
If you rent or lease a residential dwelling unit, you will need to relocate temporarily until repairs can be made to abate the cause of the condemnation. For something more catastrophic like a fire or tornado, community service agencies such as the Red Cross may step up to assist you with relocation. If condemnation has been applied for something not so obvious like a fire, you are encouraged to reach out to family and friends first to find a place to stay while repairs are made. You are also encouraged to talk with your landlord and see if there’s another unit they can relocate you to while repairs are made.
A notice of pending condemnation was posted on my door. What does that mean?
Pending condemnation means conditions exist at the property which are of great concern and need to be corrected immediately OR are easily correctable but need immediate attention. For example, if a utility such as gas, water, electricity or sewer is shut off, the rest of the building may be safe but the service needs to be restored. Additionally, if a furnace has failed in the middle of summer, it needs to be corrected, but isn’t leaving a tenant without heat. The City is providing notice that this needs to be corrected right away but is willing to afford a few days to see these items corrected without need to displace or disrupt occupants.
If the building is unsafe to occupy, can I get my things out?
Depending on the cause for the condemnation, you may be able to get your things out. If a catastrophic fire has occurred, you will likely not be able to retrieve all of your belongings. If prolonged absence of utilities has occurred, entering the property to retrieve some belongings doesn’t pose a great risk for the brief period you may be inside. To enter a building after a notice of condemnation has been posted, please contact City Hall or the number listed on the posting, and your landlord (if applicable) and coordinate a time to meet on site and ensure you’re in the building only to retrieve personal items and then vacate the premises. The building will remain secured once condemned unless work is being performed to remedy the cause of the condemnation.
How do I know how long the condemnation will be posted?
This is all dependent on the severity of the issues, and timeliness to get them corrected. Major fires, tornados, or structural failures will take some time to correct. For simpler matters, such as utility disconnects or sanitation and cleaning, the posting may only be up for a day or two. If you’re renting or leasing a space, the best source of information on a timeline will come from the property owner.
If I can’t stay in the building, where should I go until this gets resolved?
For something catastrophic like a fire or tornado, community service agencies such as the Red Cross may step up to assist you with relocation. If condemnation has been applied for something not so obvious, you are encouraged to reach out to family and friends first to find a place to stay while repairs are made. You are also encouraged to talk with your landlord (if applicable) and see if there’s another unit they can relocate you to while repairs are made.
City Hall is closed. Who should I call with questions?
A phone number should be listed on the posted placard with contact information for the Police Department Non-Emergency line. That number is 815-748-8400. When a placard is posted, a description of the issues and information will be provided to the Police and Fire Departments. If there are questions outside of what information they know, they can relay questions to the appropriate person and get those answered.