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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
10/24/2020

13VAC5-63-480. Section 104 Enforcement, Generally.

A. Section 104.1 Scope of enforcement. This section establishes the requirements for enforcement of this code in accordance with subdivision C 1 of § 36-105 of the Code of Virginia. The local governing body may also inspect and enforce the provisions of the USBC for existing buildings and structures, whether occupied or not. Such inspection and enforcement shall be carried out by an agency or department designated by the local governing body.

In accordance with subdivision C 3 of § 36-105 of the Code of Virginia, if the local building department receives a complaint that a violation of this code exists that is an immediate and imminent threat to the health or safety of the owner, tenant, or occupants of any building or structure, or the owner, occupant, or tenant of any nearby building or structure, and the owner, occupant, or tenant of the building or structure that is the subject of the complaint has refused to allow the code official or his agent to have access to the subject building or structure, the code official or his agent may make an affidavit under oath before a magistrate or a court of competent jurisdiction and request that the magistrate or court grant the code official or his agent an inspection warrant to enable the code official or his agent to enter the subject building or structure for the purpose of determining whether violations of this code exist. After issuing a warrant under this section, the magistrate or judge shall file the affidavit in a manner prescribed by § 19.2-54 of the Code of Virginia. After executing the warrant, the code official or his agents shall return the warrant to the clerk of the circuit court of the city or county wherein the inspection was made. The code official or his agent shall make a reasonable effort to obtain consent from the owner, occupant, or tenant of the subject building or structure prior to seeking the issuance of an inspection warrant under this section.

Note: Generally, official action must be taken by the local government to enforce the VMC. Consultation with the legal counsel of the jurisdiction when initiating or changing such action is advised.

B. Section 104.1.1 Transfer of ownership. In accordance with subdivision C 4 of § 36-105 of the Code of Virginia, if the local building department has initiated an enforcement action against the owner of a building or structure and such owner subsequently transfers the ownership of the building or structure to an entity in which the owner holds an ownership interest greater than 50%, the pending enforcement action shall continue to be enforced against the owner.

C. Section 104.2 Fees. In accordance with subdivision C 7 of § 36-105 of the Code of Virginia, fees may be levied by the local governing body in order to defray the cost of enforcement and appeals. For the purposes of this section, "defray the cost" may include the fair and reasonable costs incurred for such enforcement during normal business hours, but shall not include overtime costs unless conducted outside of the normal working hours established by the locality. A schedule of such costs shall be adopted by the local governing body in a local ordinance. A locality shall not charge overtime rate for inspections conducted during the normal business hours established by the locality. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to prohibit a private entity from conducting such inspections, provided the private entity has been approved to perform such inspections in accordance with the written policy of the code official for the locality.

D. Section 104.3 State buildings. In accordance with § 36-98.1 of the Code of Virginia, this code shall be applicable to state-owned buildings and structures. Acting through the Division of Engineering and Buildings, the Department of General Services shall function as the building official for state-owned buildings.

E. Section 104.3.1 Certification of state enforcement personnel. State enforcement personnel shall comply with the applicable requirements of Sections 104.4.2 and 104.4.3 for certification.

Note: Continuing education and periodic training requirements for DHCD certifications are set out in the VCS.

F. Section 104.4 Local enforcing agency. In jurisdictions enforcing this code, the local governing body shall designate the agency within the local government responsible for such enforcement and appoint a code official. The local governing body may also utilize technical assistants to assist the code official in the enforcement of this code. A permanently appointed code official shall not be removed from office except for cause after having been afforded a full opportunity to be heard on specific and relevant charges by and before the appointing authority. DHCD shall be notified by the appointing authority within 30 days of the appointment or release of a permanent or acting code official and within 60 days after retaining or terminating a technical assistant.

Note: Code officials and technical assistants are subject to sanctions in accordance with the VCS.

G. Section 104.4.1 Qualifications of code official and technical assistants. The code official shall have at least five years of building experience as a licensed professional engineer or architect, building, fire or trade inspector, contractor, housing inspector or superintendent of building, fire or trade construction or at least five years of building experience after obtaining a degree in architecture or engineering, with at least three years in responsible charge of work. Any combination of education and experience that would confer equivalent knowledge and ability shall be deemed to satisfy this requirement. The code official shall have general knowledge of sound engineering practice in respect to the design and construction of structures, the basic principles of fire prevention, the accepted requirements for means of egress and the installation of elevators and other service equipment necessary for the health, safety and general welfare of the occupants and the public. The local governing body may establish additional qualification requirements.

A technical assistant shall have at least three years of experience and general knowledge in at least one of the following areas: building construction, building, fire or housing inspections, plumbing, electrical or mechanical trades, fire protection, elevators or property maintenance work. Any combination of education and experience which would confer equivalent knowledge and ability shall be deemed to satisfy this requirement. The locality may establish additional certification requirements.

H. Section 104.4.2 Certification of code official and technical assistants. An acting or permanent code official shall be certified as a code official in accordance with the VCS within one year after being appointed as acting or permanent code official. A technical assistant shall be certified in the appropriate subject area within 18 months after becoming a technical assistant. When required by a locality to have two or more certifications, a technical assistant shall obtain the additional certifications within three years from the date of such requirement.

Exception: A code official or technical assistant in place prior to April 1, 1995, shall not be required to meet the certification requirements in this section while continuing to serve in the same capacity in the same locality.

I. Section 104.4.3 Noncertified code official. Except for a code official exempt from certification under the exception to Section 104.4.2, any acting or permanent code official who is not certified as a code official in accordance with the VCS shall attend the core module of the Virginia Building Code Academy or an equivalent course in an individual or regional code academy accredited by DHCD within 180 days of appointment. This requirement is in addition to meeting the certification requirement in Section 104.4.2.

Note: Continuing education and periodic training requirements for DHCD certifications are set out in the VCS.

J. Section 104.4.4 Conflict of interest. The standards of conduct for code officials and technical assistants shall be in accordance with the provisions of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act, Chapter 31 (§ 2.2-3100 et seq.) of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia.

K. Section 104.4.5 Records. The local enforcing agency shall retain a record of applications received, permits, certificates, notices and orders issued, fees collected and reports of inspections in accordance with The Library of Virginia's General Schedule Number Six.

L. Section 104.5 Powers and duties, generally. The code official shall enforce this code as set out herein and as interpreted by the State Review Board and shall issue all necessary notices or orders to ensure compliance with the code.

M. Section 104.5.1 Delegation of authority. The code official may delegate powers and duties except where such authority is limited by the local government. When such delegations are made, the code official shall be responsible for assuring that they are carried out in accordance with the provisions of this code.

N. Section 104.5.2 Issuance of modifications. Upon written application by an owner or an owner's agent, the code official may approve a modification of any provision of this code provided the spirit and intent of the code are observed and public health, welfare and safety are assured. The decision of the code official concerning a modification shall be made in writing and the application for a modification and the decision of the code official concerning such modification shall be retained in the permanent records of the local enforcing agency.

O. Section 104.5.2.1 Substantiation of modification. The code official may require or may consider a statement from a professional engineer, architect or other person competent in the subject area of the application as to the equivalency of the proposed modification.

P. Section 104.5.3 Inspections. The code official may inspect buildings or structures to determine compliance with this code and shall carry proper credentials when performing such inspections. The code official is authorized to engage such expert opinion as deemed necessary to report upon unusual, detailed, or complex technical issues in accordance with local policies.

Q. Section 104.5.3.1 Observations. When, during an inspection, the code official or authorized representative observes an apparent or actual violation of another law, ordinance, or code not within the official's authority to enforce, such official shall report the findings to the official having jurisdiction in order that such official may institute the necessary measures.

R. Section 104.5.3.2 Approved inspection agencies and individuals. The code official may accept reports of inspections or tests from individuals or inspection agencies approved in accordance with the code official's written policy required by Section 104.5.3.3. The individual or inspection agency shall meet the qualifications and reliability requirements established by the written policy. Reports of inspections by approved individuals or agencies shall be in writing, shall indicate if compliance with the applicable provisions of this code have been met, and shall be certified by the individual inspector or by the responsible officer when the report is from an agency. The code official shall review and approve the report unless there is cause to reject it. Failure to approve a report shall be in writing within five working days of receiving it, stating the reasons for rejection.

S. Section 104.5.3.3 Third-party inspectors. Each code official charged with the enforcement of this code and who accepts third-party reports shall have a written policy establishing the minimum acceptable qualifications for third-party inspectors. The policy shall include the format and time frame required for submission of reports, any prequalification or preapproval requirements before conducting a third-party inspection, and any other requirements and procedures established by the code official.

T. Section 104.5.3.4 Qualifications. In determining third-party qualifications, the code official may consider such items as DHCD inspector certification, other state or national certifications, state professional registrations, related experience, education, and any other factors that would demonstrate competency and reliability to conduct inspections.

U. 104.5.4 Manufactured home park tenant notification. If a notice of violation is issued to a manufactured home park owner for violations of this code that jeopardize the health or safety of tenants of the park, a copy of the notice shall be provided to each affected tenant of the manufactured home park. The terms, "manufactured home park" and "owner," as used in this section, shall be as defined in the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act (Chapter 13.3 (§ 55-248.41 et seq.) of Title 55 of the Code of Virginia).

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 22, Issue 20, eff. July 12, 2006; Volume 24, Issue 14, eff. May 1, 2008; Volume 27, Issue 02, eff. March 1, 2011; Change in Effective Date, 27:5 VA.R. 534 November 8, 2010; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 16, eff. July 14, 2014; Volume 34, Issue 18, eff. September 4, 2018.

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