A local building inspector or government official has to condemn a house and deem it unsafe, unfit for habitation and order the occupants to move. Reporting addresses and evidence of unsafe houses to the proper department head or inspectors may prompt an inspection resulting in such an order.
City or county inspectors may condemn a house because of fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, severe rodent and pest infestation, lack of basic facilities, faulty construction or dilapidation, such as the roof caving in. The inspector orders the structure vacated, usually after a 1-to-30-day period for the occupants to find other shelter. If repairs are made by the deadline, the order to vacate is canceled. If violations are corrected after the vacate date, the house can be reoccupied. In most jurisdictions, once a building has been condemned, the landlord, owner or tenant can challenge the order in court.