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Code enforcement

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) enforces codes that govern building standards and land use. Code enforcement ensures that owners and contractors obey applicable codes.

Code enforcement

The Department of Licenses and Inspections inspects existing buildings for compliance with:

  • Fire code.
  • Property maintenance code.
  • Zoning code.
  • Licensing laws.
  • Vending laws.

Inspectors issue violations, respond to service requests, and perform inspections before L&I issues certain licenses. They also conduct regular inspections of nuisance properties and certain significant buildings. The latter include:

  • Public and charter schools.
  • Child care centers.
  • High-rises.
  • Vacant industrial properties.
  • Hospitals.
If inspectors find violations, they issue a notice of violation. The property owner has 35 days to address the violation. If the property fails re-inspection, L&I may initiate legal action. The court may impose substantial penalties, and L&I can also order property owners to cease operations.


To make a complaint or report unlicensed contractors or unpermitted work, use 311’s online form or call 311. If you’re outside Philadelphia, call (215) 686-8686.

L&I’s response time depends on the type of complaint:

  • 3 business days
    • Maintenance complaints for a residence without heat (between October 1 and April 15)
  • 5 business days
    • Dangerous buildings
    • Building demolition
  • 10 business days
    • Work without a permit
    • Work that exceeds the scope of a permit
  • 20 business days
    • Fire safety
    • Maintenance complaints for:
      • Broken main drain or raw sewage within the property
      • Interior and exterior maintenance
      • High weeds
    • Plastic bag ban
    • Unlicensed business or vendor
    • Vacant property

Code information

New laws and regulations result in frequent updates to the Philadelphia Code. L&I provides information about these updates in the form of: