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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
1/22/2020

13VAC5-63-470. Section 103 Application of Code.

A. Section 103.1 General. This code prescribes regulations for the maintenance of all existing buildings and structures and associated equipment, including regulations for unsafe buildings and structures.

B. Section 103.2 Maintenance requirements. Buildings, structures and systems shall be maintained and kept in good repair in accordance with the requirements of this code and when applicable in accordance with the USBC under which such building or structure was constructed. No provision of this code shall require alterations to be made to an existing building or structure or to equipment unless conditions are present which meet the definition of an unsafe structure or a structure unfit for human occupancy.

C. 103.2.1 Maintenance of nonrequired components and systems. Nonrequired components and systems may be discontinued in use provided that no hazard results from such discontinuance of use.

D. 103.2.2 Maintenance of nonrequired fire protection systems. Nonrequired fire protection systems shall be maintained to function as originally installed. If any such systems are to be reduced in function or discontinued, approval shall be obtained from the building official in accordance with Section 103.8.1 of the VCC.

E. 103.2.3 Responsibility. The owner of a structure shall provide and maintain all buildings, structures, systems, facilities and associated equipment in compliance with this code unless it is specifically expressed or implied that it is the responsibility of the tenant or occupant.

F. Section 103.3 Continued approval. Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, alterations shall not be required to be made to existing buildings or structures which are occupied in accordance with a certificate of occupancy issued under any edition of the USBC.

G. Section 103.4 Rental Inspections. In accordance with § 36-105.1:1 of the Code of Virginia, these provisions are applicable to rental inspection programs. For purposes of this section:

"Dwelling unit" means a building or structure or part thereof that is used for a home or residence by one or more persons who maintain a household.

"Owner" means the person shown on the current real estate assessment books or current real estate assessment records.

"Residential rental dwelling unit" means a dwelling unit that is leased or rented to one or more tenants. However, a dwelling unit occupied in part by the owner thereof shall not be construed to be a residential rental dwelling unit unless a tenant occupies a part of the dwelling unit that has its own cooking and sleeping areas, and a bathroom, unless otherwise provided in the zoning ordinance by the local governing body.

The local governing body may adopt an ordinance to inspect residential rental dwelling units for compliance with this code and to promote safe, decent and sanitary housing for its citizens, in accordance with the following:

1. Except as provided for in subdivision 3 of this subsection, the dwelling units shall be located in a rental inspection district established by the local governing body in accordance with this section; and

2. The rental inspection district is based upon a finding by the local governing body that (i) there is a need to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the occupants of dwelling units inside the designated rental inspection district; (ii) the residential rental dwelling units within the designated rental inspection district are either (a) blighted or in the process of deteriorating or (b) the residential rental dwelling units are in the need of inspection by the building department to prevent deterioration, taking into account the number, age and condition of residential dwelling rental units inside the proposed rental inspection district; and (iii) the inspection of residential rental dwelling units inside the proposed rental inspection district is necessary to maintain safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for tenants and other residents living in the proposed rental inspection district. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize one or more locality-wide rental inspection districts and a local governing body shall limit the boundaries of the proposed rental inspection districts to such areas of the locality that meet the criteria set out in this subsection; or

3. An individual residential rental dwelling unit outside of a designated rental inspection district is made subject to the rental inspection ordinance based upon a separate finding for each individual dwelling unit by the local governing body that (i) there is a need to protect the public health, welfare and safety of the occupants of that individual dwelling unit; (ii) the individual dwelling unit is either (a) blighted or (b) in the process of deteriorating; or (iii) there is evidence of violations of this code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for tenants living in such individual dwelling unit.

For purposes of this section, the local governing body may designate a local government agency other than the building department to perform all or part of the duties contained in the enforcement authority granted to the building department by this section.

Before adopting a rental inspection ordinance and establishing a rental inspection district or an amendment to either, the governing body of the locality shall hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. Notice of the hearing shall be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper published or having general circulation in the locality.

Upon adoption by the local governing body of a rental inspection ordinance, the building department shall make reasonable efforts to notify owners of residential rental dwelling units in the designated rental inspection district, or their designated managing agents, and to any individual dwelling units subject to the rental inspection ordinance, not located in a rental inspection district, of the adoption of such ordinance, and provide information and an explanation of the rental inspection ordinance and the responsibilities of the owner thereunder.

The rental inspection ordinance may include a provision that requires the owners of dwelling units in a rental inspection district to notify the building department in writing if the dwelling unit of the owner is used for residential rental purposes. The building department may develop a form for such purposes. The rental inspection ordinance shall not include a registration requirement or a fee of any kind associated with the written notification pursuant to this subdivision. A rental inspection ordinance may not require that the written notification from the owner of a dwelling unit subject to a rental inspection ordinance be provided to the building department in less than 60 days after the adoption of a rental inspection ordinance. However, there shall be no penalty for the failure of an owner of a residential rental dwelling unit to comply with the provisions of this subsection, unless and until the building department provides personal or written notice to the property owner, as provided in this section. In any event, the sole penalty for the willful failure of an owner of a dwelling unit who is using the dwelling unit for residential rental purposes to comply with the written notification requirement shall be a civil penalty of up to $50. For purposes of this subsection, notice sent by regular first-class mail to the last known address of the owner as shown on the current real estate tax assessment books or current real estate tax assessment records shall be deemed compliance with this requirement.

Upon establishment of a rental inspection district in accordance with this section, the building department may, in conjunction with the written notifications as provided for above, proceed to inspect dwelling units in the designated rental inspection district to determine if the dwelling units are being used as a residential rental property and for compliance with the provisions of this code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants of such property.

If a multifamily development has more than 10 dwelling units, in the initial and periodic inspections, the building department shall inspect only a sampling of dwelling units, of not less than two and not more than 10% of the dwelling units, of a multifamily development, that includes all of the multifamily buildings that are part of that multifamily development. In no event, however, shall the building department charge a fee authorized by this section for inspection of more than 10 dwelling units. If the building department determines upon inspection of the sampling of dwelling units that there are violations of this code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants of such multifamily development, the building department may inspect as many dwelling units as necessary to enforce these provisions, in which case, the fee shall be based upon a charge per dwelling unit inspected, as otherwise provided in the fee schedule established pursuant to this section.

Upon the initial or periodic inspection of a residential rental dwelling unit subject to a rental inspection ordinance, the building department has the authority under these provisions to require the owner of the dwelling unit to submit to such follow-up inspections of the dwelling unit as the building department deems necessary, until such time as the dwelling unit is brought into compliance with the provisions of this code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants.

Except as provided for above, following the initial inspection of a residential rental dwelling unit subject to a rental inspection ordinance, the building department may inspect any residential rental dwelling unit in a rental inspection district, that is not otherwise exempted in accordance with this section, no more than once each calendar year.

Upon the initial or periodic inspection of a residential rental dwelling unit subject to a rental inspection ordinance for compliance with these provisions, provided that there are no violations of this code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants of such residential rental dwelling unit, the building department shall provide, to the owner of such residential rental dwelling unit, an exemption from the rental inspection ordinance for a minimum of four years. Upon the sale of a residential rental dwelling unit, the building department may perform a periodic inspection as provided above, subsequent to such sale. If a residential rental dwelling unit has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the last four years, an exemption shall be granted for a minimum period of four years from the date of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy by the building department. If the residential rental dwelling unit becomes in violation of this code during the exemption period, the building department may revoke the exemption previously granted under this section.

A local governing body may establish a fee schedule for enforcement of these provisions, which includes a per dwelling unit fee for the initial inspections, follow-up inspections and periodic inspections under this section.

The provisions of this section shall not in any way alter the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants pursuant to the applicable provisions of Chapter 13 (§ 55-217 et seq.) or Chapter 13.2 (§ 55-248.2 et seq.) of Title 55 of the Code of Virginia.

The provisions of this section shall not alter the duties or responsibilities of the local building department under § 36-105 of the Code of Virginia to enforce the USBC.

Unless otherwise provided for in § 36-105.1:1 of the Code of Virginia, penalties for violation of this section shall be the same as the penalties provided for violations of other sections of the USBC.

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 24, Issue 14, eff. May 1, 2008; Volume 30, Issue 16, eff. July 14, 2014; Volume 34, Issue 18, eff. September 4, 2018; Errata, 34:22 VA.R. xxx June 25, 2018.

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