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The Division of Code Enforcement and Administration (DCEA) has several primary missions related to the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (Uniform Code) and the Energy Conservation Construction Code (Energy Code), as provided for in Article18 of the Executive Law (§370 et. seq.) and Article 11 of the Energy Law (§11-101 et. seq.). Among the responsibilities of the Division is the establishment of minimum standards for administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code and the Energy Code. In most cases, the Uniform Code and Energy Code are enforced by the local government (i.e., city, town or village) in which a building is located.
The minimum standards for code enforcement and administration are found in Part 1203 and Part 1208 of Department of State regulations, Title 19 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (19 NYCRR). In brief, Part 1203 requires each local government that enforces the Uniform Code to:
Part 1208 requires code enforcement personnel appointed after January 1, 1985 to complete a minimum basic training program within one year of their initial appointment date.
The DCEA is authorized to receive complaints about enforcement of the Uniform Code and the Energy Code. While the DCEA does provide limited assistance in resolving complaints, the Department of State does not have the authority to fashion remedies for many complaints related to construction, operation and maintenance of buildings and premises. Except with regard to manufactured housing (formerly known as mobile homes), the Department's authority with regard to these concerns is based on Article 18 of the Executive Law, Section 381(3), which provides:
"On and after the first day of July, nineteen hundred eighty-five, the secretary shall have power to investigate and conduct hearings relative to whether administration and enforcement of the uniform fire prevention and building code complies with the minimum standards promulgated pursuant to subdivision one of this section. At least ten days written notice of any such hearing shall be provided to the elective or appointive chief executive officer or, if there be none, the chairman of the legislative body of the local government or county whose administration and enforcement of the uniform code is at issue."
It should be noted that DCEA has no authority to address issues that have their origin prior to January 1, 1984, as the Uniform Code only came into effect on that date. However, buildings that pre-existed the Uniform Code are subject to maintenance provisions of the Fire Code and the Property Maintenance Code. Also, alterations to buildings which were constructed prior to January 1, 1984 are subject to the Existing Buildings Code or Appendix J of the Residential Code. Conduct relating to such buildings may be investigated by the Division.
With regard to manufactured housing, there is a separate program, established by Article 21-B of the Executive Law and Title 19 NYCRR Part 1210. Section 1210.18 addresses resolution of disputes. Information on the dispute resolution program can be downloaded from the DCEA's website at http://www.dos.ny.gov/code/manuf.html. Complaints alleging substantial defects in the delivered condition, installation, service or construction of a manufactured home may be filed in writing with the Department of State, within one year and ten days after the service, installation, or issuance of a certificate of occupancy, or the expiration of any applicable provision of a contract or warranty, whichever is later. If complaints cannot be resolved informally, a hearing will be held before an administrative law judge, who has authority to direct appropriate compensation to the complainant.
While the DCEA is authorized to investigate allegations that a local government is not enforcing the Uniform Code in accordance with the minimum Part 1203 and Part 1208 standards described above, the DCEA is not authorized to investigate other matters that may, on the surface, appear to be about building and fire code enforcement. Examples of the types of concerns that do not come under the DCEA's investigatory authority include, but are not limited to:
Personnel issues. Code enforcement officials are employees of local governments, and are subject to the terms and conditions of employment that apply in the specific local government. The DCEA has no authority to discipline or discharge local code enforcement officials. In general, the DCEA would have no authority to investigate allegations of activities such as:
However, an allegation that a local government is failing to enforce the Uniform Code in accordance with the applicable Part 1203 and Part 1208 standards as a result of activities such as those mentioned above may fall within the investigatory authority of the DCEA. Certain of the activities mentioned above may be subject to the jurisdiction of another governmental agency; for example, allegations of illegal conduct may fall under the jurisdiction of the local Police Department, the local District Attorney's office, or the State Attorney General's office.
Certification of Code Officials. Certifications are issued to a code enforcement official to indicate that he or she has completed (1) the basic code enforcement training program and (2) the annual "in-service" training programs. The DCEA has no authority to revoke any such certification. However, the DCEA does have the authority to investigate an allegation that a local government is employing a code enforcement official appointed on or after January 1, 1985 who has not completed the basic code enforcement training program.
Issues arising under other laws. The DCEA's authority to investigate allegations that the Uniform Code and Energy Code are not being enforced in accordance with the applicable minimum standards does not include the authority to investigate matters arising under other laws, statutes and regulations relating to the construction or use of buildings and premises. For example, the DCEA is not authorized to investigate allegations involving:
Where a complaint does allege the failure to enforce the Uniform Code and/or Energy Code in accordance with the Part 1203 and Part 1208 standards, the DCEA must consider a number of factors before deciding to begin an investigation. For example:
The Uniform Code deals with issues that relate to the safety of persons who use and occupy buildings, as well as the safety of first responders who respond to fires and other emergencies in buildings. The principal concern of the Uniform Code is - and the principal concern of those responsible for enforcing the Uniform Code should be - the safety of those people and the safety of those first responders. When a code violation is identified, the first priority of those who enforce the Uniform Code should be to have the violation corrected, and not to ascertain or fix liability for the cost of the required remedy. Therefore, when a possible code violations is called to the attention of a local government, it is appropriate for the code enforcement official to investigate and, as warranted, to order the owner of the subject property to correct the violation.
To file a complaint, please click here DOS 1423 Local Code Enforcement Complaint Form to download a complaint form and for information about the other documents that will be required. Please complete the complaint form and all other required documents, submit the original complaint form and supporting documents to the DCEA's main office, and send one copy of the complaint form and all supporting documents to the local government. Be sure to keep a copy of the complaint form and each supporting document for your own records. Documents submitted to the DCEA may be mailed to:
Department of State
Division of Code Enforcement and Administration
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Ave, Suite 1160
Albany, NY 12231-0001
or may submitted by fax to (518) 486-4487, or by e-mail email@example.com. If submitting by e-mail, please type "COMPLAINT" in the subject line. Once the DCEA has received a complaint, it will be evaluated by central office staff. Please allow at least 30 days for processing. If it is determined that further investigation is warranted, we will assign the complaint to one of our regional offices, and will also notify you in writing.