Housing and Building Department FAQs
New for 2021:
- Beginning January 1, 2021 any new principal structure or addition to a principal structure requires a legal property (boundary) survey.
- Beginning March 1, 2021 any new garage will require a legal property (boundary) survey.
Q: What is the zoning of a particular property?
Q: Can I operate a business out of my home?
A: Some limited home occupations are permitted with a Conditional Use Permit approved by the Lakewood Planning Commission. See Lakewood Codified Ordinance Chapter 1145 for specific information and restrictions. Please contact the Planning & Development Department at (216) 529-6631 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Q: My neighbor’s tree is hanging over/damaging my property. What can I (you) do about it?
A: Full information about Trees in Lakewood may be found by clicking here. Generally, tree limbs hanging over onto your property may be trimmed up to the property line. Disputes about trees that are located directly on the property line are a civil matter between property owners. For more severe circumstances or questions please contact the Streets & Forestry Division by e-mail at: email@example.com
Q: Can you recommend a contractor?
A: The city is prohibited from steering people to any specific contractors. However contractors are supposed to register annually with the city and have proof of insurance. The list of contractors who have registered with the city may be found by clicking here. It is still recommended that references be obtained from all contractors prior to agreeing to have any work performed.
Q: How do I register to do work in the City?
A: Registration is required every calendar year. Click here for Contractor Registration Packet including an application and instructions.
Q: What smoke detectors or carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are acceptable to the City?
A: Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors which are not wired directly to the building’s power supply must be operated in a plug-in outlet which is fitted with a plug-restraining device, provided the outlet is not controlled by any switch other than the main power supply. Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors with a digital read out are preferred. Single use, battery-powered carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are not acceptable.
Lakewood Code requires tamper resistant smoke detectors in all rental units. As for placement of detectors it is recommended to have one in the living room away from the kitchen, one in the hall between the bedrooms and one in each sleeping room. As for the type of detector many people believe in the photo electric, however it is recommend that you purchase the type of detector with a ten (10) year battery. Experience in Lakewood has been that most injuries and deaths occurred when the battery was removed from the detector and not replaced.
Q: Do I need a permit/inspection for the City sidewalk in front of my house repaired/replaced?
A: Any work that is located in the public right of way (city sidewalks, street aprons, tree lawns, in the street, etc) requires permits and inspections from the Building Department. Please call (216) 529-6272 with any questions.
Q: Why do I need a dye test before connecting to the City sewer(s)?
A: Because of the age and limited capacity of the city’s sanitary sewer system, the City of Lakewood by code requires the elimination of storm water from entering the sanitary sewer system. A dye test verifies that storm water is not being directed into that system. Click here for more information and FAQs about Dye Tests. This procedure is intended to incrementally detect and eliminate this primary cause of overflows of the sanitary system which pollute our waterways. It also is intended as a proactive approach to prevent a United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) finding against the City of Lakewood which would likely require the construction of massive water storage tunnels similar to the Mill Creek and Euclid Creek Interceptors that the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) has been forced to build at a cost of several billion dollars paid for through higher sewer rates.
Q: Where can I report problems with mold, asbestos, lead etc.?
A: Mold: Areas where mold has grown should be thoroughly dried and cleaned. The moisture source must be eliminated in order to eliminate the occurrence or reoccurrence of the mold problem.
Asbestos: A permit is required for the containment, removal and disposal of asbestos. The City of Cleveland Department of Health Division of Air Quality is the enforcement agency on behalf the Ohio EPA. See the attached link: https://clevelandhealth.org/programs/air/about/
Lead: All contractors are now required to have lead abatement training. For questions call Cuyahoga County Board of Health at (216) 201-2001 x 1262
Q: With last night’s storm, I got water in my basement. Where can I report it/get help?
A: You may report this problem to the City Water Department (216) 529-5941. A representative will evaluate the issue to determine the best course of action. To prevent such occurrences, it is recommended that as part of routine maintenance of your property that your storm and sanitary sewers be cleaned from the street to the building periodically. Click here for a list of registered contractors that do sewer work. In addition, dye tests can also uncover issues in your sewers and water lines. Click here for more information and FAQs about Dye Tests.
Q: How can I find Lakewood housing that accepts Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) tenants?
A: See the following link for HousingCleveland.org: http://www.socialserve.com/tenant/OH/Search.html?city_id=30965&ch=CLE&type=rental
Q: How can I dispute my high real estate taxes?
A: Property values can be disputed through the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision at the attached link: http://bor.cuyahogacounty.us/. Disputes or errors in tax bills should be directed to the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office at the attached link: http://treasurer.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/real-estate-taxes.aspx
Q: How can I find out who owns the absentee landlord property next to me?
A: See the attached link for the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office: https://fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/REPI.aspx . You will only need the address of the property to search for the owner’s information.
Q: How can I obtain a vendor’s license?
A: Contact the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office at the following link: http://fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/vendors-license.aspx
Q: What is the number you should call before you dig to avoid hitting underground utility lines?
A: The “Before You Dig #” is “811”. You may also dial (1-800) 362-2764 or see the following link at: https://www.oups.org/
Q: My neighbor has not cut his grass (or shoveled his walks). Who can help me?
A: You may use “Report a Problem” feature on the website by clicking here. You may also contact the Division of Housing and Building by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (216) 529-6970.
Q: My water pressure is low. How do I report this?
A: Please contact the Division of Water and Wastewater Collection by phone at (216) 529-6820 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.
Q: My mother is elderly. Can someone with the City help with snow removal/grass cutting?
A: The Lakewood Department of Human Services does have a Snow Removal Program for seniors. Please contact the Division of Aging at (216) 521-1515 for more information. You can also refer to the following link for registered contractors that perform such services: http://www.lakewoodoh.gov/apply-register/registered-contractors/
Q: My landlord is not responding to my complaints? What can I do?
A: Disputes over lease obligations are civil matters strictly between tenants and landlords. Contact the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s Tenant Information Line at (216) 861-5955 or go to: https://lasclev.org/get-help/housing/ for additional information.
Q: How can I put my rent in escrow until my landlord fulfills his obligations?
A: Chapter 5321 of the Ohio Revised Code specifies the procedure to place money into escrow. See the following link: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321 The Cleveland Tenants Organization may be able to assist you, also. See the attached link: http://www.clevelandtenants.org/. The Lakewood Municipal Court may also provide assistance. Call (216) 529-6700 or an application for Rent Escrow may be found at the following link: http://www.lakewoodcourtoh.com/courtforms.html
Q: Do you have to be registered to go door-to-door in Lakewood selling goods or services?
A: Yes an individual needs to register with the Building Department in accordance with Lakewood Codified Ordinance Chapter 741 – Peddlers, Vendors and Solicitors. The permit is issued to the individual NOT the organization. Each individual from an organization that will be knocking on doors must register as there is a criminal background check done before a permit is issued. NOTE: Non-profits (e.g. Girl Scouts, school programs) and Canvassers (e.g. politicians) are exempt from the need to obtain a permit
Q: What do I do if a solicitor that comes to my door is aggressive in their sales to the point it is inappropriate and intimidating or is asking for my personal information or copies of my utility bills?
A: First of all, if you are concerned for your safety, you should never hesitate telling the individual to leave and that you are calling the police. Second, you should always ask for identification from the individual first. Write their name down and the organization they are representing. Do not give them any personal information or copies of any of your invoices or bills. Ask them to provide you with information on their organization so that you can check it out and follow up with them if you are interested. Third, if the caller is from a utility company (i.e. gas or electric) and you have a complaint about the interaction please call the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the oversight organization for organizations providing utility services in Ohio to report your complaint:
PUCO – Customer Complaints – (1-800) 686-7826.
Q: Is there a way I can prevent solicitors from knocking on my door?
A: Yes, the City of Lakewood has a “Do Not Knock Registry”. You may sign up for the “Do Not Knock Registry” by clicking here. You must renew your registration each year. If you receive solicitors and you have signed up for the Do Not Knock Registry you may report it to the Law Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your Name, Address, Name of the Individual that came to the door and the name of the organization they represented. If however the solicitor was representing a utility company, report it to the PUCO at: (1-800) 686-7826.
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