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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 13. Housing
Agency 5. Department of Housing and Community Development
Chapter 63. Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code
1/19/2020

13VAC5-63-180. Section 118 Unsafe Buildings or Structures.

A. Section 118.1 Applicability. This section applies to unsafe buildings or structures.

Note: Existing buildings and structures other than those under construction or subject to this section are subject to the VMC, which also has requirements for unsafe conditions.

B. Section 118.2 Repair or removal of unsafe buildings or structures. Any unsafe building or structure shall be made safe through compliance with this code or shall be taken down and removed if determined necessary by the building official.

C. Section 118.3 Inspection report. The building official shall inspect any reported unsafe building or structure and shall prepare a report to be filed in the records of the local building department. In addition to a description of any unsafe conditions found, the report shall include the occupancy classification of the building or structure and the nature and extent of any damages caused by collapse or failure of any building components.

D. Section 118.4 Notice of unsafe building or structure. When a building or structure is determined by the building official to be an unsafe building or structure, a written notice of unsafe building or structure shall be issued by personal service to the owner, the owner's agent, or the person in control of such building or structure. The notice shall specify the corrections necessary to comply with this code and specify the time period within which the repairs must occur, or if the notice specifies that the unsafe building or structure is required to be demolished, the notice shall specify the time period within which demolition must occur.

Note: Whenever possible, the notice should also be given to any tenants or occupants of the unsafe building or structure.

E. Section 118.4.1 Vacating unsafe building or structure. If the building official determines there is actual and immediate danger to the occupants or public, or when life is endangered by the occupancy of an unsafe building or structure, the building official shall be authorized to order the occupants to immediately vacate the unsafe building or structure. When an unsafe building or structure is ordered to be vacated, the building official shall post a notice at each entrance that reads as follows:

"This Building (or Structure) is Unsafe and its Occupancy (or Use) is Prohibited by the Building Official."

After posting, occupancy or use of the unsafe building or structure shall be prohibited except when authorized to enter to conduct inspections, make required repairs, or as necessary to demolish the building or structure.

F. Section 118.5 Posting of notice. If the notice is unable to be issued by personal service as required by Section 118.4, then the notice shall be sent by registered or certified mail to the last known address of the responsible party and a copy of the notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises.

G. Section 118.6 Posting of placard. In the case of an unsafe building or structure, if the notice is not complied with, a placard with the following wording shall be posted at the entrance to the building or structure:

"This Building (or Structure) is Unfit for Habitation and its Use or Occupancy has been Prohibited by the Building Official."

After an unsafe building or structure is placarded, entering the unsafe building or structure shall be prohibited except as authorized by the building official to make inspections, to perform required repairs, or to demolish the unsafe building or structure. In addition, the placard shall not be removed until the unsafe building or structure is determined by the building official to be safe to occupy. The placard shall not be defaced.

H. Section 118.7 Emergency repairs and demolition. To the extent permitted by the locality, the building official may authorize emergency repairs to unsafe buildings or structures when it is determined that there is an immediate danger of any portion of the unsafe building or structure collapsing or falling and when life is endangered. Emergency repairs may also be authorized when there is a code violation resulting in a serious and imminent threat to the life and safety of the occupants or public. The building official shall be permitted to authorize the necessary work to make the unsafe building or structure temporarily safe whether or not legal action to compel compliance has been instituted.

In addition, whenever an owner of an unsafe building or structure fails to comply with a notice to demolish issued under Section 118.4 in the time period stipulated, the building official shall be permitted to cause the unsafe building or structure to be demolished. In accordance with §§ 15.2-906 and 15.2-1115 of the Code of Virginia, the legal counsel of the locality may be requested to institute appropriate action against the property owner to recover the costs associated with any such emergency repairs or demolition and every such charge that remains unpaid shall constitute a lien against the property on which the emergency repairs or demolition were made and shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided in Articles 3 (§ 58.1-3940 et seq.) and 4 (§ 58.1-3965 et seq.) of Chapter 39 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Note: Building officials and local governing bodies should be aware that other statutes and court decisions may impact on matters relating to demolition, in particular whether newspaper publication is required if the owner cannot be located and whether the demolition order must be delayed until the owner has been given the opportunity for a hearing.

I. Section 118.8 Closing of streets. When necessary for public safety, the building official shall be permitted to order the temporary closing of sidewalks, streets, public ways, or premises adjacent to unsafe buildings or structures and prohibit the use of such spaces.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-98 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 22, Issue 03, eff. November 16, 2005; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 16, eff. July 14, 2014.

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