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Code Compliance and Enforcement

Code Compliance

The Code Compliance Team is responsible for maintaining community compliance with the Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) to protect the health, safety and welfare of Tacoma residents. Investigation of compliance concerns are usually initiated by community members, who report their concerns to the City using TacomaFIRST 311. When complaints are received, Code Compliance Inspectors respond by inspecting the property of concern. If the Inspector observes violations to the Tacoma Municipal Code, the property owner is informed and code compliance works with them to correct identified violations.  

Categories of Violations

For food safety related topics, visit the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.

Nuisance Property Violations

Nuisance Property Violations are unsafe, unhealthy or undesirable conditions that exist on public or private property, are generally not part of the main building or structure, and may include abandoned or inoperable vehicles.


 Case Type Case Description Compliance Strategies TMC

Properties may have large piles of litter and debris, inoperable vehicles and overgrown vegetation. These types of properties may be a health and sanitation hazard or fire hazard.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Enroll low-income, elderly or disabled clients into YARD

-Issue civil penalties

-Record Certificate of Complaint

-Pursue a warrant to abate nuisance conditions

 Graffiti Any unwanted design or profane visual on any surface on public or private property.

-Enroll eligible property owners into the Rapid Graffiti Removal Program for City removal

-Send Notice of Violation 

-Issue civil penalties

-Pursue warrant to abate graffiti

 8.30 and 8.122
 Stop Work Order/Notice of Violation Requires a property owner to stop work on construction projects that do not have a permit or requires the property owner to obtain a permit for completed work.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Issue civil penalties

-Record Certificate of Complaint

8.30 and 2.08

Occurs when a sound is much louder than other ambient sounds in the area, and is continuous. Examples may include noise from night clubs or after hours construction projects.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Issue civil penalties

Chronic Nuisance Properties
Chronic nuisance activities may be behaviors occurring on a property such as illegal drug activity, alcohol violations, prostitution or repeated noise code violations.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Issue civil penalties

-Criminal charges that include a fine up to $5,000 or up to one year in jail

-Permanent or temporary cancellation of a business license

Residential Parking Standards Vehicles that are unlicensed or inoperable, parked in the front yard on an unapproved surface, number of vehicles exceeds code, or are improperly stored.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Issue civil penalties

-Record Certificate of Complaint


Building Violations

Building Violations are defined by the severity and/or number of issues present on a building or structure.

 Case Type Case Description Compliance Strategies TMC
 Non-Standard A building or structure with minor code violations that may lead to structural deterioration, but may be occupied. Examples of non-standard issues include broken or missing gutters, peeling paint, or a broken window.

-Connect property owner to community resources that may help resolve the violation

-Pursue provisional licensing on rental properties

 Substandard A building or structure that may be occupied, but has code violations present that must be corrected. Examples of substandard issues include missing safety hand rails on stairs, broken windows, or a roof that needs repair.

-Send a Notice of Violation

-Issue civil penalties

-Record Certificate of Complaint

-Pursue provisional licensing on rental properties

 Derelict A building or structure that may not be safe to live in, may be abandoned, or may not have utility services. Derelict buildings are often boarded up and may become an attractive nuisance for illegal activity and dumping.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Secure the building

-Issue civil penalties

-Pursue provisional licensing on rental properties

-Record Certificate of Complaint

 Unfit A building or structure that is structurally unsafe and must be repaired or removed. Examples of unfit buildings include buildings with fire damage or a building in need of repairs that will cost more than 50% of the total structure's value.

-Send Notice of Violation

-Record Certificate of Complaint

-Request Unfit hearing

-Repair or removed structure




Right-of-Way Violations

Right-of-way violations occur within the public right-of-way, not on private property. Violations include abandoned or inoperable vehicles, overgrown vegetation and debris. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the right-of-way abutting their property.


Case Type Case Description Compliance Strategies TMC
Right-of-Way Vehicles in the right-of-way that have not been moved for more than seven days or are unlicensed.

Vegetation or litter and debris that obstructs sidewalks, streets, or street signs.

-Ticket or tow vehicle

-Abate overgrowth or litter and debris issues




Steps to Compliance

1. A community member reports a concern to TacomaFIRST 311. Most commonly reported concerns are:

2. A Code Compliance Inspector inspects the property of concern.

  • If no violation is found, the case is closed, “no violation.”

3. If a violation is confirmed, a Notice of Violation is mailed to both the property owner and the address of where the violation is located, (if different from the property owner's address).

  • The Notice of Violation indicates the timeline in which the violation must be corrected. If the property owner needs more time to bring the property into compliance, a reasonable timeline extension may be requested, by submitting a “plan of repair” to the Inspector who issued the Notice of Violation.
  • The Inspector provides guidance to the property owner on options for bringing the property into compliance with Tacoma Municipal Code. 

4. Once repairs are due for completion, the Inspector re-inspects the property.

  • If violation has been corrected, the case is closed. 

5. If the issue is still present or progress has not been made as stated in an approved plan of repair, the City may issue civil penalties or pursue abatement.

  • The Inspector makes regular re-inspections and may initiate progressive enforcement action until compliance is met.

Code Compliance Response Map

Detailed information about the City’s response to code compliance issues can be found using this Code Compliance Response Map. The map includes the address of violation, case type, case open and closed dates, case status and City action, and a link to the Pierce County assessor with additional property details. Case information on the map is updated weekly.


Click to View the Code Compliance Response Map


Requesting Case Details

If you would like further information about code compliance details on a property that you do not own, please submit a public disclosure request to the City.


Your public disclosure request should include:

  • The type of document you are requesting, photos of violations, notices mailed to property owners, outstanding invoices, cancelled or incomplete permits, or repair agreements with the property owner.
  • Date or date range of documents being requested

Standards for a Well Maintained Property


Property Standards



Glossary of Terms

Abatement: A process by which the City of Tacoma removes Nuisance conditions on a property. Abatement may be performed with a warrant if the Nuisance is on private property, or without a warrant if the Nuisance is on public right-of-way or an imminent threat to life safety.


Appeal: A request by the property owner to the NCS Director or Hearing Examiner to re-evaluate any part of a Notice of Violation, Civil Penalty, or Finding of Fact and Order.


Certificate of Complaint: A complaint filed with the Pierce County Tax Assessor that is attached to the property record at the violation address after Civil Penalties meet code requirements, which vary by violation type. Certificates of Complaint serve as an indicator to anyone investigating the property that there may be unmet obligations to be fulfilled by the property owner to the City of Tacoma.


Civil Penalties: A fine issued by the City of Tacoma to the property owner as a result of non-compliance with property corrections. Fines are generally issued in $250 increments and can be issued upon each re-inspection of the property where progress has not been made, and sent to collections after 60 days of non-payment.


Demolition Plan: An administrative process conducted by Code Compliance to assess the scope of the demolition project, outline and execute required environmental and safety testing, and execute the contract of the demolition.


Findings of Facts, Conclusions, and Order: A decision issued by the Hearing Examiner after a hearing to determine the next actions permitted by the property owner and the City to resolve the open case.


Hearing Process: The process in which the City pursues legal action to abate a property or remove a building in violation. The hearing is conducted by the Hearing Examiner who makes a decision about the course of resolution for the case.


Limitations due to Ownership Status: Describes a complication in which the City is unable to reach resolution by working directly with the owner because the owner is deceased, unreachable, or the property is in the foreclosure process.


Notice of Violation: Written communication to the property owner detailing code violations, the City process for pursuing compliance, and the property owner’s rights.


Plan of Action or Repair Plan: A plan submitted by the property owner to the Code Inspector outlining how and when the repairs noted in the Notice of Violation will be completed.


Public Disclosure of Records Request: A public record is any record containing information relating to the conduct of government business, which is prepared, owned, used, or retained by an agency. This includes, but is not limited to, electronic media, paper, email, microfilm audiotapes, videotapes, magnetic tapes, and disks (CDs/DVDs). Public records may be obtained from the City by request.


Provisional License: The provisional license is a three year license that the City requires of residential property owners if their property is found to be endangering the health or safety of tenants. One of the requirements of the provisional license is a certificate of inspection that will demonstrate that their property does not endanger the health and safety of tenants. The provisional license is based on Sate Legislation adopted in 2010 and consistent with the Landlord-Tenant Act.


Receivership: A process in which the City gains legal authority to take control of a private property in order to correct code violations.


Right-of-Way: Includes the area of land, the right of possession of which is secured by the City for right-of-way purposes and includes the traveled portion of the public streets and alleys, as well as boarder area, which includes, but is not limited to, any sidewalks, driveway approaches, planting strips, traffic circles, parkways, or medians, or area between the sidewalk and the curb line.


Warrant: The process in which a Superior Court Judge issues permission for the City to abate nuisance conditions on a property or demolish a building.


YARD Program: A program funded and administered by the City that connects low-income, elderly or disabled property owners with overgrown vegetation nuisance violations to a resource that will remove the overgrowth at no cost.

To report a new code compliance issue, call TacomaFIRST 311 at (253) 591-5000 or report online


For other inquiries, please contact the Code Compliance division at (253) 591-5049