The city of Los Angeles requires permits to be obtained for major constructions, enlargements, additions, repairs, improvements, to ensure that any work done is in accordance with the applicable building safety codes and standards.
Yet there are many times when people alter their homes without securing necessary permits, either due to ignorance, negligence, or lack of finances.
Failing to obtain a required permit may result in substantial fines and penalties, depending on the type and nature of the work done.
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) responds to unpermitted work by substandard building and demanding the property to bring compliance within a specified period of time.
What Happens If An Inspector Finds Unpermitted Work?
If compliance does not occur within that time, penalties can be increased and lead to criminal charges against the property owner.
Here is everything you should know about fines and penalties associated with unpermitted work.
Civil Penalties and Fines
Property owners are liable for a civil fine of up to one thousand for every single day the violation is committed or allowed to continue. The building department has the authority to direct the property owners to pursue necessary remedies to obtain compliance, including paying the following fines or fees.
Code Violation Inspection Fee
You will need to pay a fee of $356.16 if your property contains work that is found to be in violation of the applicable codes. If not paid within 15 days, late penalties may increase the costs to $1,246.00.
If you fail to comply with the notice or order within the stipulated time or any approved extension, an additional non-compliance fee of $660 can be incurred. Failure to pay the fee within 30 days may increase the penalties to more than $2,310.00.
You will have to pay an investigation fee when a permit is required to bring your unpermitted construction into compliance with the applicable code. Upon the issuance of the permit, you will end up paying double the fee for your permit.
To obtain the necessary permits for your property, you may need to submit building plans to the LADBS for approval.
You will need to pay a modification of the code called “extension of time” if you are not able to take the required corrective action within the specified time and need more time due to the complexity of the project.
In most cases, this fee is $346.62 but may be more or less depending on the circumstances. The city inspector may suspend the modification fee if deemed justifiable.
If you fail to pay any or all of these fees and fines, the department may place a lien on your property.
If the time to obtain compliance has expired without correction of any violation and fees are not paid, the Housing Department may summon the owner for an administrative hearing to explain the reason for non-compliance,
The case may be referred to the Office of the City Attorney for potential criminal charges, including violation, disobedience, omission, neglect, or persistent refusal.
If convicted, the homeowner may face up to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment of six months, or both.
How to Correct and Resolve Unpermitted Work?
You will need to legalize your unpermitted work to avoid a code enforcement action by the building department. Luckily, Los Angeles has a retroactive building permitting process in place, which means you won’t have to undo all your work to bring it up to the code.
Pulling a permit after the fact can be the best solution to bring your unpermitted structure if it meets the minimum zoning standards after necessary remedial work.
Permits are in place to make sure that all the work in the city is done according to building codes, and codes are there to protect the safety of the people. Therefore, it is always advisable to pull proper permits when necessary.
If you have work on your property done without the necessary paperwork, we encourage you to legalize it as quickly as possible to prevent a code enforcement action and ensure the safety of its current and future occupants.
Let Us Help You Legalize Your Unpermitted Work
For years, we at CCS Inc have been assisting property owners in bringing their unpermitted work up to the applicable codes.
Call us today to discuss a possible solution for your unpermitted work with one of your consultants.