Tuesday, Lakeway City Council will vote on new rules for code enforcers entering homes to check for construction permits.
The proposed changes come after several homeowners told CBS Austin code enforcers walked into their houses uninvited, without permission while contractors were completing remodels.
The homeowners claim after the illegal entry, they were forced to pay fines for not having proper construction permits.
“Common knowledge would think you can’t do that,” says homeowner Julianne Autry, who says two code enforcers illegally entered her house in March 2017.
The current city code allows code enforcement officers the following powers and duties:
Upon presentation of proper credentials, enter and inspect any private property or place, and inspect any report or records at any reasonable time when granted permission by the owner, or by some other person with apparent authority to act for the owner. When permission is refused or cannot be obtained, a search warrant may be obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction upon showing of probable cause to believe that a violation of this article may exist. Such inspection may include administration of any necessary tests.
One of the proposed amendments changes the wording:
The code official or other authorized agent of the city shall comply with Section 1.01.10 and shall only enter private property at reasonable times (1) with consent of: the owner; or a resident, tenant, or lessee occupying the property; or the owner's designated agent; or (2) pursuant to a lawfully issued administrative warrant.
“We still want the inspections to take place we just don’t want them to take place without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner,” says Councilwoman Laurie Higginbotham.
Councilwoman Higginbotham is part of a committee including the director of Building and Development, City Manager, Police Chief, and city attorney that rewrote the ordinance.
“The changes to the ordinance will make it clear that only a resident or homeowners can allow the city to enter their homes,” says Higginbotham.
Julianne Autry says she’s happy with the proposed changes.
"It's a great feeling to know that you can talk to the media and get a city like Lakeway to make some changes for everyone,” says Autry.
Lakeway City Council will vote on the proposals Tuesday at 6:30 pm.
There will be a chance for public input before the vote.
To view all proposed changes click here.