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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Default Is a City Responsible for Construction That is Not Up to Code

    Three neighboring houses in California share a long retaining wall that runs adjacent to the sidewalk and supports their front yards. The wall was built more than thirty years ago, before any of the homeowners moved in.

    Recently a portion of the wall collapsed. The city inspector found that the wall was not properly constructed and has declared that the entire wall must be removed and replaced. There is no record of permits or inspections for the wall.

    Shouldn't the city bear at least some of the cost of replacement, given that they didn't stop the wall from being built or make sure that it was up to code when it was built?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Is a City Responsible for Construction That is Not Up to Code

    It sounds like there's a good chance that no permit was ever obtained for the wall, and that it was never inspected by the city. It is not a given that a city is going to find out about unpermitted construction, nor does a city have a duty to find every instance of construction that occurs without a permit (even if it were possible).

    Further, even if there were a permit, a mistake by a building inspector would not create any liability on the part of the city toward the homeowner. The municipal inspection is for the benefit of the city, not the homeowner.

    If the city is not willing to contribute to the cost of rebuilding the wall, there is no way to compel them to contribute.

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