Administrative Code

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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

13VAC5-63-490. Section 106 Unsafe structures.

A. Section 106.1 General. This section shall apply to existing structures which are classified as unsafe. All conditions causing such structures to be classified as unsafe shall be remedied or as an alternative to correcting such conditions, the structure may be vacated and secured against public entry or razed and removed. Vacant and secured structures shall still be subject to other applicable requirements of this code. When the code official determines that an unsafe structure constitutes such a hazard that it should be demolished, then the code official shall be permitted to order the demolition of such structures in accordance with applicable requirements of this code.

Note: Structures which become unsafe during construction are regulated under the VCC.

B. Section 106.3 Notice of unsafe structure. When a structure is determined by the code official to be an unsafe structure, a written notice of unsafe structure shall be issued by personal service to the owner, the owner's agent, or the person in control of such structure. If the notice is unable to be issued by personal service, 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. The notice shall specify the section numbers for any code provisions cited, the corrections necessary to comply with this code, or if the structure is required to be demolished, the notice shall specify the time period within which the demolition must occur. The notice of unsafe structure shall indicate the right of appeal by referencing the appeals section of this code. The person to whom the notice has been issued shall be responsible for contacting the code official within the timeframe established for any reinspections to ensure the violations have been corrected. The code official will be responsible for making such inspection and verifying the violations have been corrected.

Note: Whenever possible, the notice should also be given to any tenants of the affected structure.

C. Section 106.4 Vacating unsafe structure. The code official is authorized to order occupants to vacate the unsafe structure or prohibit occupancy of the unsafe structure. When an unsafe structure is ordered to be vacated or prohibited from occupancy, the code official shall include the order in the notice of unsafe structure, or issue a separate order.

D. Section 106.5 Posting of placard. An unsafe structure that has been issued an order to vacate or prohibited from occupancy shall be posted with the following wording at each entrance to the structure: "THIS STRUCTURE IS UNSAFE AND ITS USE OR OCCUPANCY HAS BEEN PROHIBITED BY THE CODE OFFICIAL." After a structure is placarded, entering the structure shall be prohibited except as authorized by the code official to make inspections, to perform required repairs, or to demolish the structure. In addition, the placard shall not be removed until the structure is determined by the code official to be safe to occupy, nor shall the placard be defaced.

E. Section 106.6 Revocation of certificate of occupancy. If a notice of unsafe structure is not complied with within the time period stipulated on the notice, the code official shall be permitted to request the local building department to revoke the certificate of occupancy issued under the VCC.

F. Section 106.7 Vacant and open structures. When an unsafe structure is open for public entry, the code official shall be permitted to authorize the necessary work to make such structure secure against public entry whether or not legal action to compel compliance has been instituted.

G. Section 106.8 Emergency repairs and demolition. To the extent permitted by the locality, the code official may authorize emergency repairs to unsafe structures when it is determined that there is an imminent danger of any portion of the unsafe structure collapsing or falling and when life is endangered. Emergency repairs may also be authorized where there is a code violation resulting in the immediate serious and imminent threat to the life and safety of the occupants. The code official shall be permitted to authorize the necessary work to make the structure temporarily safe whether or not legal action to compel compliance has been instituted. In addition, whenever an owner of an unsafe structure fails to comply with a notice to demolish issued under Section 106.3 in the time period stipulated, the code official shall be permitted to cause the 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: Code 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. In addition, historic building demolition may be prevented by authority granted to local historic review boards in accordance with § 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia unless determined necessary by the code official.

J. Section 106.9 Closing of streets. When necessary for public safety, the code official shall be permitted to order the temporary closing of sidewalks, streets, public ways, or premises adjacent to unsafe structures and prohibit the use of such spaces.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-98 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 3, eff. November 16, 2005; amended, Virginia Register Volume 24, Issue 14, eff. May 1, 2008; Volume 27, Issue 2, 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; Volume 37, Issue 14, eff. July 1, 2021; Volume 40, Issue 9, eff. January 18, 2024.

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