Property Code Enforcement


Effective code enforcement enhances the quality of life for residents by: 

  • Protecting the health and safety of the public
  • Preserves property values in the city
  • Encourages pride in our community
  • Encourages private and public investment in a neighborhood making Wooster a desirable location for residents and businesses to flourish.

The Building Standards Division works collaboratively with Planning and Zoning, Fire Prevention, the Public Properties and Maintenance Division, and the Wooster Police Division to ensure continued high standards for the City and businesses located here.

Compliance Program

The Property Code Compliance Program consists of:

  1. Complaint Investigations and
  2. Systematic periodic inspections in the RT zoning district. This zoning district surrounds the downtown with mostly older pre-1935 housing. We inspect these houses every two years.

Complaint-driven inspections result in a violation 80% of the time, while RT zoning district inspections result in a violation about 20% of the time. However, they are effective in covering large areas and identifying violations that may go unreported. Each type of inspection has advantages and limitations.

2020 Activity

The Division performed 1,265 Property Maintenance and Zoning Code inspections. These inspections resulted in 662 code violations.

Of the 662 violations:

89% were closed because the owner resolved the issue/s or the City abated the violation or the case was prosecuted in court. 

The City hires contractors to abate the issue/s. Then, we bill the owner for the work (grass mowing/hauling, etc) and if unpaid, we certify the costs to the auditor for a special assessment.

11% of the time, the violations are open and pending resolution.

In 2020, seven houses were demolished. This has been the average for the last 10 years.

How We Work

Inspectors investigate every complaint that is received or observed.  After verifying a violation, the inspector will attempt to make contact with the owner and send them a letter notifying them of the code violation. Generally, we deal with owners and not tenants as it is the owner's responsibility to manage their property.

Inspectors explain the City’s code requirements and the reasons behind them.  This educational component helps strengthen partnerships and reduces the number of cases that need to be resolved by legal action. We will work with owners to resolve violation/s. If they are not resolved within the prescribed time, the case is referred for prosecution.  The majority of violations are resolved within a few days, but some situations may take months. Most of the time, a reasonable timeframe can be agreed to, as long as a plan is in place. The City’s goal is voluntary compliance, not prosecution and penalties.

With some minor issues such as high grass or garbage or debris on the property, we may use our contractor to mow or haul away the garbage and then we will invoice the property owner for the cost of the work.

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Common Violations
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Tall Weeds and Grass

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 302.4 Weeds

All premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant growth in excess of twelve inches. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited. Weeds shall be defined as all grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees or shrubs provided; however, this term shall not include cultivated flowers and gardens. Upon failure of the owner or agent having charge of a property to cut and destroy weeds after service of a notice of violation, they shall be subject to prosecution in accordance with Section 106.3 and as prescribed by the authority having jurisdiction. Upon failure to comply with the notice of violation, any duly authorized employee of the jurisdiction or contractor hired by the jurisdiction shall be authorized to enter upon the property in violation and cut and destroy the weeds growing thereon, and the costs of such removal shall be paid by the owner or agent responsible for the property.

Rubbish or Garbage on the Property

International Property Maintenance Code 308.1

Accumulation of rubbish or garbage. All exterior property and premises, and the interior of every structure, shall be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.

Parking on the Lawn

City of Wooster Codified Ordinance 1169.10

Any vehicle shall be parked only in parking areas specifically constructed for such a purpose and shall not be parked on lawns, treelawns or sidewalks.

Painting of Structures

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 304.2

Protective treatment. All exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks and fences shall be maintained in good condition. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted. All siding and masonry joints as well as those between the building envelope and the perimeter of windows, doors, and skylights shall be maintained weather resistant and water tight. All metal surfaces subject to rust or corrosion and all surfaces with rust or corrosion shall be stabilized and coated to inhibit future rust and corrosion. Oxidation stains shall be removed from exterior surfaces. Surfaces designed for stabilization by oxidation are exempt from this requirement.

Roof and Gutter Maintenance

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 304.7

Roofs and drainage. The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain. Roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior portion of the structure. Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions. Roof water shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.

Unlicensed or Inoperable Motor Vehicles On Property

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 302.8

Motor vehicles. Except as provided for in other regulations, no inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. Painting of vehicles is prohibited unless conducted inside an approved spray booth. Exception: A vehicle of any type is permitted to undergo major overhaul, including body work, provided that such work is performed inside a structure or similarly enclosed area designed and approved for such purposes.

Detached Structure Maintenance

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 302.7

Accessory structures. All accessory structures, including detached garages, fences and walls, shall be maintained structurally sound and in good repair.

Deck and Porch Maintenance

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 304.10

Stairways, decks, porches and balconies. Every exterior stairway, deck, porch and balcony, and all appurtenances attached thereto, shall be maintained structurally sound, in good repair, with proper anchorage and capable of supporting the imposed loads.

Broken Windows

2012 International Property Maintenance Code 304.13.1

Glazing. All glazing materials shall be maintained free from cracks and holes.