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Appointment Only

Building Inspection is open to the public by appointment only.

For more on appointments and other services, please see the Building Inspection Services page.

Common Code Violations Checklist

This checklist can help property owners and tenants identify common code violations. The prepared checklist shows the most common issues our inspectors find. It does not list all possible issues.

Lista de infracciones comunes (PDF).

Exterior property maintenance
  • Large amounts of loose, peeling, or missing paint
  • Damaged or missing bricks and/or mortar from chimneys or other masonry
  • Detached or clogged gutters
  • Leaking or deteriorating roofs
  • Rotted or non-weather-tight siding, trim, windows, and doors
  • Accumulated junk, trash, or debris
  • Untrimmed trees or trees with dead wood
  • Trash carts at the front of the property (outside of trash-pickup day)
  • Broken-down vehicles in driveway
  • Run down or broken fences, storage sheds, walkways, and other exterior structures
  • Missing paint or pigment stain from wood structures/surfaces between a house and sidewalk
  • Blocked public sidewalks next to the property. (Clearance must be at least 7 feet)
  • Wooden structures or surfaces between the main building and the street not weather-tight. Unpainted or untreated with pigmented stain

Stairs, porches, and balconies

  • Missing handrail from stairs with more than three steps
  • Uneven steps on stairs
  • Rotting wood, crumbling construction, or other damage
  • Stairs with open sides or other areas higher that 24" above grade without guardrails.
  • Loose or flimsy guardrails


General interior maintenance
  • Missing doorbells or intercom at the main door of a multi-unit building
  • Holes, water damage, or peeling paint on walls, ceilings, and other surfaces
  • Damaged floors, including trip hazards, or floors with a hard-to-clean surface
  • Broken or damaged stovetops, refrigerators, and appliances
  • Run down cabinets/countertops in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Missing, usable window or ventilation fan
  • Broken or defective heating system that can’t keep a temperature of at least 67°F at all times
  • Heating systems not serviced annually, or without post records detailing who serviced the system
  • Metal water piping systems not properly bonded around the water meter
  • Unclean or cluttered common areas, including basements. Basements with items owned by previous tenants
  • Basements, without two approved means of egress, used for sleeping purposes



  • Common area doors into a building with many units without a storeroom lock and a self-closer. Storeroom locks are also called positive locking guarded latch locks.

    • These doors must close and lock automatically without anyone having to lock the door.

  • Dwelling unit doors without a keyed deadbolt lock.

    • The deadbolt must have at least a one inch throw.

    • The strike plate must be secured using screws least two and one half inches long.

  • Main unit door without a door viewer (peephole) if the door has no window.

  • Sliding doors must have both a primary lock, part of the door assembly, and a secondary lock.

  • Sliding doors on the first floor level (or accessible by a tree, balcony, fence, etc.), must have a vent lock.

  • Vent locks must secure the door in the open position between one to five inches open. Acceptable secondary and vent locks include:

    • rods or other substantial material cut to the appropriate lengths

    • pins or stops that install in the track

    • adjustable security bars sold for this purpose

  • Basement doors to common areas in multi-unit buildings without a storeroom lock and a self-closer.

  • Laundry room doors in shared basements without a storeroom lock and a self-closer.

  • Missing fire doors, where required.

    • Missing latching hardware and self-closers.

    • Fire doors left propped open.



  • All windows must

    • Have properly working sash locks.

    • Open and close properly. The lower sashes of double hung windows must stay up, when opened, without the use of a prop.

    • Be free of broken or cracked glass.

    • Be double-glazed (thermo pane), or have storm windows from November 15 to April 30.

    • Have properly fitting insect screens from June 1 to October 15. The screens must be in good repair.

  • Windows must have vent locks if

    • The window is at or below the first floor

    • The window is within reach of porches, balconies, trees, etc.

  • Vent locks must let each window lock to stay between one (1) to five (5) inches open.

    • The locks, when not in use, must let the window open fully from the inside.


Smoke alarms

  • Smoke alarms must either

    • Be hard-wired OR

    • Use tamper resistant, 10-year lithium batteries

  • Dual smoke detector / carbon monoxide alarms that do not meet the above power requirements

  • Smoke alarms not installed

    • in every bedroom (or area used for sleeping)

    • within six feet of the outside of bedroom entry doors

    • on each floor level (including basements)

  • See here for a visual placement guide.


Carbon monoxide alarms

CO alarms missing from the following placements:

Building type

Must have a carbon monoxide alarm

One and two dwelling units

On every floor (including basements) of every unit

3 or more dwelling units

Within 15 feet of bedroom doors of any unit with a fuel-burning appliance


Within any other room that has a fuel-burning appliance

(Carbon monoxide alarms may be either battery powered or plug-in.)



  • Sinks, bathtubs, and showers without adequate cold water. Also without hot water of at least 120°F

  • Plumbing fixtures not properly installed or leaking

  • Plugged or slow drains

  • Dishwasher drains without a proper air gap or air break

  • Toilets not working properly or and unsecured to the floor



  • 3-prong electrical outlets improperly grounded

  • Outlets that cannot be grounded must be replaced with

    • 2-prong outlets or

    • GFCI-protected receptacles labeled 'No Equipment Ground'.

  • Outlets without GFCI protection that are located in

    • kitchens

    • bathrooms

    • garages

    • unfinished basements

    • within 6 feet of a water source

    • outside the building

  • Electrical switch, outlet, and junction box cover plates not properly installed.

  • Cover plates with cracks or damage.

  • Light fixtures not secured and improperly functioning.

  • Light fixtures missing covers.

  • The electrical conductors for garbage disposals without clamp (listed for the wiring method) where they pass into the body of the disposal.

  • Screw-in fuses without S-type bases of the appropriate rating for each circuit.

  • A bathroom without at least one outlets.

  • A bedroom without at least two outlets.

  • Extension cords used as permanent wiring.

Last Updated: 11/13/2023

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Do you have a specific code question?

If you have specific code questions it is best to contact Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 to discuss your questions or concerns. 

Minimum Housing Code

The complete minimum housing code can be found in Chapter 27 of the Madison Municipal Ordinances.

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