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Complaint Inspections

Part 1203 of Title 19 of the Official Compilation of Code, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York requires that all municipalities develop procedures for complaints which assert conditions or activities that fail to comply with the Uniform Code.

The City of Rochester's Department of Neighborhood and Business Development has established a policy that sets forth guidelines that will allow complaint-driven inspections to be performed in a uniform manner with a focus on the health and safety of residents and neighborhood blight. For the purpose of processing, property code complaints are separated into two types; exterior and interior.

Exterior Property Code Complaints

Complaints that are received where the only violation(s) noted is on the exterior of the property are handled as follows:

  1. If there is no current open case on the property in question, the staff person taking the call will generate a case and assign it to the appropriate inspector. The relative inspector will then conduct an inspection from a legal vantage point.  (Note: If the property in question has an existing case, the complaint will be added to the case event notes and the inspector who is managing the current case will be assigned the inspection). 
  2.  If the inspector is unable to visually verify the violation(s) in question, he/she will use any and all methods available to contact the complainant in order to identify the caller's concern. If the complainant is anonymous or if they cannot be contacted, the case can be closed after properly documenting all attempts that were made. 
  3. Once the violation(s) in question have been identified, if they are health and safety related and/or causing a blighting effect for the surrounding neighborhood, a Notice and Order is issued. For minor situations, a courtesy letter may be sent to the owner and the case may be closed. In either situation, when contact information is available, the inspector will inform the complainant of the action taken. If the complainant expresses a concern over the disposition of the case, they will be offered an opportunity to speak to the inspector's immediate supervisor.

Interior Property Code Complaints

1.  Complaints that are received where the violation(s) noted are in the interior of the structure shall be handled as follows:  

  • The staff person taking the call or handling the walk-in shall ask the complainant if he/she is a legal occupant of the property in question and inquire as to what their concern is and if they have contacted the property owner. 
  • If the complainant expresses a concern with respect to a suspected Lead problem, the need for a lead dust wipe test or an interior painting deficiency, the following action shall be taken:
    • If there is an existing case open on the property, the complainant's information shall be entered into the case event notes and an inspection shall be scheduled for the inspector who is currently managing the open case.
    • If the property does not have an existing case, a case should be generated for the area CEO and an inspection shall be scheduled.  

For all other concerns, the following shall apply: 

If the complainant indicates he/she has not contacted the owner, staff will advise them to do so and enter the information into the comment section of our Building Information System. If the complainant indicates he/she has been unsuccessful in contacting the homeowner, or the homeowner has been unresponsive, the staff person will attempt to contact the owner. Staff shall make every effort to resolve the problem by phone the day of the complaint. 

  • If the homeowner is contacted, and they are responsive to the tenant's concern, the staff person who handled the call will relay that information to the complainant and properly document the conversation with the owner in the comment section of our Property Information System (INFOR). The complainant will be advised to call back if the owner fails to meet those expectations.
  • If the complainant does not have a means of being contacted by phone, an appointment shall be scheduled upon initial contact according to the instructions in item #1 above. In this situation, when possible, the owner must still be informed of the concerns and of the fact that an appointment has been scheduled.
  • If support staff cannot resolve the problem that day by phone, the complainant will be contacted and an appointment will be scheduled according to the instructions in item #1 above.

2.  Upon inspecting the property, the inspector will focus attention on the area(s) of concern, except in situations where there are other obvious hazardous situations, including deteriorated paint. If the violation(s) in question presents a threat to the occupant's health and safety or is of a blighting nature, a Notice and Order will be issued. If the violations do not fall into one of these categories, the inspector will inform the complainant and notify the owner and the case will be closed as too minor to pursue. If the complainant continues to express concern over the violations, they will be offered an opportunity to speak to the inspector's immediate supervisor.

3.  With respect to the areas designated by the lead ordinance as 'High Risk', the entire unit will be inspected for deteriorated paint and any necessary lead dust wipe test will be required to be scheduled.

4.  Any situation resulting in the issuance of a Notice and Order will be followed up on a regular basis by the assigned inspector until compliance is achieved. Any necessary code enforcement will be applied in accordance with the code enforcement policy.

Click here for Code Enforcement information

Filing a Property Complaint

Property code complaints can be made by any of the following means:

  • Your area Neighborhood Service Center for properties in the:
    • Northwest - (585) 428-7620
    • Southwest - (585) 428-7630
    • Northeast - (585) 428-7660
    • Southeast - (585) 428-7640    
  • The Bureau of Buildings and Compliance at (585) 428-6520
  • Call 311 or for calls from a cell phone or outside the city, please call (585) 428-5990.