Why does the summary citation process for property maintenance violations fail?

Nearly a universal failure of most Property Maintenance Code Enforcement programs is breakdown in the District Justice system for adjudicating these violations. There are so many points in this process where failure can occur that failure is a more likely outcome than success.

The first place where the process can begin to break down is in the identification of the property owner’s actual address, which more than likely is not the address of the abandoned house, contrary to the information provided on the summary citation. Unless the owner is properly notified the Borough will probably lose their prosecution on procedural grounds.  Next is the fact that unless the Code Enforcement Officer actually serves the property owner with the citation, he/she is not even aware that they have been cited. This being the case, the District Court will be required to notify the defendant via registered mail, that they have been cited and that they must appear to answer the charges. I don’t know about you, but when was the last time you received “good news” via registered mail? These citations can become warrants to be served by a constable. Constables make much more money, up front, by serving civil warrants AND they are usually not antagonistic.

I have developed a software platform that quickly and easily handles the notice part of the process as well as reporting periodic reports to enable revisiting complaint locations in a timely manner.

If you’re interested in how my program  has worked in other communities, and how it can work in your community, contact me at wesleyjohnson1@gmail.com for complete details and a demonstration.


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