Can You Sell a Condemned House?



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Even if you take excellent care of your home, there’s always a possibility of damage occurring. If this damage is extensive, it could put your house at risk of being condemned. Condemnation refers to a house that has been legally deemed unsafe to live in, and unless it gets repaired in a timely manner, anyone residing there will be forced to move out.

Learn how a house gets condemned and what actions you can take if this happens to your property.

Key points from this article:

  • Definition and Causes – A house is condemned when it's legally deemed unsafe for habitation. This can result from various reasons, such as extensive damage, mold, pest infestations, or lack of essential utilities. The process usually starts when a concerned individual reports the property, leading to a safety inspection. If the house fails the inspection, it's declared unfit and can be seized by the government if not rectified.
  • Condemnation Process – The time it takes for a house to be condemned varies, often depending on local laws and the reason for condemnation. Typically, after a court rules a home as unsafe, residents are given a period (often 30-60 days) to address the issues or vacate. If the problems persist, the property becomes government-owned.
  • Impact on Property Value and Sale – Condemnation significantly reduces a property's value. While it's possible to sell a condemned house, the process is complex and might require repairs and re-inspection before the sale. The property also needs to be listed on a special platform for condemned homes, attracting a niche audience like real estate agents or home flippers.
  • Selling to Cash Buyers – For homeowners looking to quickly sell a condemned house, selling to cash buyers like AMI House Buyers can be a viable option. They purchase homes in any condition, offering a swift solution before potential government seizure.

Disclaimer – The information on this page is intended for general informational purposes only and not to provide legal advice.

How does a house become considered condemned?

A house is usually condemned as the result of a neighbor or other concerned citizen contacting the local government expressing worry that the building is unsafe. This claim will result in a safety inspection of the property. If the house does not pass inspection, it will be declared unfit for human habitation and thus condemned.

If no actions are taken to amend the safety problems discovered by the inspector, the government will seize the property.

How long does it take for a house to be labeled as condemned?

The amount of time it takes for a home to get condemned may vary depending on several factors, including the reason for condemnation and the laws of the state and county in which the home is located.

Before a home can be condemned, the court needs to make a decision in an eminent domain case. These cases tend to have a lot of moving pieces and usually take around 12–18 months to resolve.

After the court determines that a home is unfit for habitation, its residents are given a set period of time to either fix the property’s problems or move out. While this period typically lasts somewhere between 30 and 60 days, residents may be required to vacate immediately if a home’s current state poses severe safety risks.

Who decides if a house is considered condemned?

The right to condemn a house is known as eminent domain. Federal, state, and local governments all have eminent domain, as well as certain private entities. Here are a few of the most common questions people have about who does and does not have eminent domain:

  • Can the health department condemn a house?

    Health and safety concerns are the primary reason why houses become condemned. As
    such, it only makes sense that the health department has the authority to deem a home
    unfit to live in.

  • Can the city condemn a house?

    The authority to condemn a house does not only belong to the federal and state governments. The city also has eminent domain.

  • Can a home inspector condemn a house?

    While a home inspector may point out issues that could potentially cause a house to be condemned, they themselves do not have eminent domain.

  • Can the fire department condemn a house?

    While the fire department itself cannot condemn a house, the fire marshal does have the power to do so. If a firefighter notices severe structural damage to the home, they can report it to the fire marshal and recommend that the property be condemned.

  • Can an appraiser condemn a house?

    An appraiser’s job is to determine the market value of a house, not how safe it is to live in. That means appraisers do not have eminent domain. However, if you are worried about a house you are about to buy or sell being condemned, you can hire an appraiser who specializes in looking for potential causes for condemnation.

  • Can an electrician condemn a house?

    Because faulty electricity can pose a major safety risk, electricians do have the right to condemn a home. However, most electrical issues are entirely fixable, so it’s extremely rare for an electrician to call for condemnation.

  • Can an insurance company condemn a house?

    An insurance company cannot make the decision to condemn a house. The only say they get in the matter is how much will be covered in the event of a condemnation.

Is there some sort of condemned house warning notice provided?

The first step of the condemnation process is for the government to provide a Notice of Condemnation of Real Estate and/or Personal Property. This notice is usually attached to the home’s door to ensure that it gets seen and is not accidentally thrown away.

A Notice of Condemnation states that a house is at risk of being seized by the government and lists the rights of the property owners and residents, as well as any upcoming meetings they can attend to learn more about what will happen to their home.

What happens when a house is considered condemned?

After a house has been condemned, the government can use it as they see fit. This often involves knocking down the home and building something new on the land it previously occupied.

If a condemned house is left in place, it serves no practical purpose unless someone buys and fixes it. In many cases—especially when a home is an eyesore due to its noticeable state of disrepair—this brings down the property values of neighboring houses.

If the residents of a neighborhood with a condemned house bring the issue to the local government, the city council will take a vote on what to do with the building. In most cases, they will vote to demolish it.

What are the reasons a house might become condemned?

It’s not unusual for a home to have a few imperfections, but most homes don’t get condemned for their flaws. Here are some of the most common concerns homeowners have about what could lead to their house being condemned:

  • Can a house be condemned for mold?

    Mold is more than just a cosmetic issue—it can lead to various health problems and lead to a home’s structural damage. As such, a house can be condemned for the presence of mold.

  • Can a house be condemned for asbestos?

    Despite the health risks associated with asbestos, a home will not be condemned for asbestos alone. Asbestos is fairly common in homes built before the 1990s and condemning every property that contains it would be unrealistic, especially considering that fully encapsulated asbestos is often safest if left untouched.

  • Can a house be condemned for bed bugs?

    Bed bug infestations are usually fairly manageable and are not typically a cause for condemnation on their own. However, in severe cases, a house can be condemned for bed bugs due to the health risks they pose to residents.

  • Can a house be condemned for having no electricity or water?

    The answer to this question largely depends on where a home is located. Different areas have different standards of livability for homes, and one county may require electricity and running water, while another may not. If you wish to live in a home without either of these things, you’ll need to do some research on your local laws to ensure that your property will not be condemned.

  • Can a house be condemned for rats or infestations by other pests?

    Pests can do all sorts of damage to a home and the health of its residents. As a result, failure to get an infestation under control can lead to a property being condemned.

  • Can a house be condemned for hoarding?

    Hoarding can lead to safety issues including, but not limited to, fire hazards, pest problems, and mold. This puts hoarder houses at serious risk of condemnation.

Can you live in a condemned house?

After the court rules a home unsafe to occupy, its residents usually have some time to stay on the property and potentially fix the problems that led to its condemnation. However, if the home is still determined to be uninhabitable at the end of the given grace period, no one is legally allowed on the premises anymore. After this point, the house belongs to the government.

Can you go into a condemned house?

Once a “condemned” sign goes up on a property, entering it would be both unwise and illegal. Entering condemned house is not only unsafe, but also considered as trespassing.

Condemned houses belong to the government. Even if you once owned a condemned home, it isn’t yours anymore and getting caught on the premises could put you in legal trouble.

Can you make an insurance claim on a condemned house?

Different homeowners insurance policies have different levels of coverage. A condemnation may be covered fully, partly, or not at all, depending on the type of insurance you have. You’ll need to examine the terms of your policy to determine how much money, if any, you would receive in the event that your house gets condemned.

The one constant among all insurance policies is that providers won’t cover any sort of damage that could have realistically been prevented. If the conditions leading to your house being condemned were the result of neglect or mistreatment, not only will your insurance not cover the condemnation; filing a claim could also lead to an insurance fraud charge.

Can a condemned house be fixed?

Condemned houses aren’t always a lost cause. Depending on the extent of the damage to the property, you may be able to fix it before the government takes it away. If you do, you can get its condemnation reversed.

Whether or not it’s worth attempting to keep a condemned home depends on the cost of repairs and the time it would take to complete them. It only makes sense to fix the home if it’s relatively inexpensive and the repairs are guaranteed to be finished before the government plans to seize the property.

How do you get a house condemned?

If a house in your neighborhood is visibly falling apart, you may wish to get it condemned so it does not lower your own property’s value. If you contact your local health inspector citing concerns that the house is unsafe for human habitation, they’ll inspect the home for any health code violations. If they deem the situation to be bad enough, they’ll order that the home be condemned.

However, if you do attempt to get your neighbor’s house condemned, be warned that they will likely learn that you were the one who reported the property. This can lead to a lot of tension, especially if the house does not end up getting condemned and you’re stuck as neighbors indefinitely.

Can you buy a condemned house?

While it is possible to buy a condemned house, the buying process tends to be more complicated than it is with a typical home sale.

Because you’re getting involved with the government rather than just an individual seller, buying a condemned home means you’ll have to adhere to various legal regulations. These policies can be difficult to navigate, so it’s best to work with a real estate agent who has experience with condemned houses and can guide you through the process.

How does a home that’s become condemned affect its value?

Condemnation naturally causes a property’s value to go down. Because condemned houses are priced lower, some buyers may view them as a good deal.

However, be aware that for a house to be condemned, the damage is usually pretty extensive. Paying for the needed repairs could end costing more than the home’s actual value.

Can you sell a condemned house?

Before the government seizes your property, you may be able to sell it, but be warned that selling a condemned house comes with unique challenges.

In addition to having a very limited window to sell before your home is no longer yours, you’ll need to do extensive research on your local laws. In some areas, a condemned home can only be sold if it is repaired and re-inspected first.

The house will also need to go on a special listing specifically for condemned properties. This listing will include the date of condemnation and the reasons why the home has been condemned. Naturally, most buyers won’t have any interest in homes on this list, but niche audiences like real estate agents and home flippers may be willing to buy your house.

Looking to sell a condemned house?

Time is of the essence when selling a condemned house. Selling to a cash buyer is usually the quickest and easiest way to get a condemned home off your hands before the government takes it. If you’re looking to sell a condemned house before time runs out, consider selling to AMI. We buy homes in all conditions and can make you a no-obligation cash offer if you contact us today.

Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman is the owner of AMI House Buyers and a seasoned real estate investor with a heavy focus on the Houston & Katy, Texas areas. She has done numerous flips, has owned multiple rental properties, and is also a licensed real estate agent in the state of Texas. She is heavily experienced in the areas of foreclosures, water damaged properties, burnouts, and inherited properties, and works with distressed homeowners in all types of situations to help them understand their options and find potential solutions.


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