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
1/20/2020

13VAC5-63-490. Section 106 Unsafe Structures or Structures Unfit for Human Occupancy.

A. Section 106.1 General. This section shall apply to existing structures which are classified as unsafe or unfit for human occupancy. All conditions causing such structures to be classified as unsafe or unfit for human occupancy 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. Notwithstanding the above, when the code official determines that an unsafe structure or a structure unfit for human occupancy constitutes such a hazard that it should be razed or removed, 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 106.2 Inspection of unsafe or unfit structures. The code official shall inspect any structure reported or discovered as unsafe or unfit for human habitation and shall prepare a report to be filed in the records of the local enforcing agency and a copy issued to the owner. The report shall include the use of the structure and a description of the nature and extent of any conditions found.

C. Section 106.3 Unsafe conditions not related to maintenance. When the code official finds a condition that constitutes a serious and dangerous hazard to life or health in a structure constructed prior to the initial edition of the USBC and when that condition is of a cause other than improper maintenance or failure to comply with state or local building codes that were in effect when the structure was constructed, then the code official shall be permitted to order those minimum changes to the design or construction of the structure to remedy the condition.

D. Section 106.3.1 Limitation to requirements for retrofitting. In accordance with Section 103.2, this code does not generally provide for requiring the retrofitting of any structure. However, conditions may exist in structures constructed prior to the initial edition of the USBC because of faulty design or equipment that constitute a danger to life or health or a serious hazard. Any changes to the design or construction required by the code official under this section shall be only to remedy the serious hazard or danger to life or health and such changes shall not be required to fully comply with the requirements of the VCC applicable to newly constructed buildings or structures.

E. Section 106.4 Notice of unsafe structure or structure unfit for human occupancy. When a structure is determined to be unsafe or unfit for human occupancy by the code official, a written notice of unsafe structure or structure unfit for human occupancy shall be issued by personal service to the owner, the owner's agent or the person in control of such structure. The notice shall specify 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. Requirements in Section 105.2 for notices of violation are also applicable to notices issued under this section to the extent that any such requirements are not in conflict with the requirements of this section.

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

F. Section 106.4.1 Vacating unsafe structure. If the code official determines there is actual and immediate danger to the occupants or public, or when life is endangered by the occupancy of an unsafe structure, the code official shall be authorized to order the occupants to immediately vacate the unsafe structure. When an unsafe structure is ordered to be vacated, the code official shall post a notice with the following wording at each entrance: "THIS STRUCTURE IS UNSAFE AND ITS OCCUPANCY (OR USE) IS PROHIBITED BY THE CODE OFFICIAL." After posting, occupancy or use of the unsafe structure shall be prohibited except when authorized to enter to conduct inspections, make required repairs or as necessary to demolish the structure.

G. Section 106.5 Posting of notice. If the notice is unable to be issued by personal service as required by Section 106.4, 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.

H. Section 106.6 Posting of placard. In the case of a structure unfit for human habitation, at the time the notice is issued, a placard with the following wording shall be posted at the entrance to the structure: "THIS STRUCTURE IS UNFIT FOR HABITATION AND ITS USE OR OCCUPANCY HAS BEEN PROHIBITED BY THE CODE OFFICIAL." In the case of an unsafe structure, if the notice is not complied with, a placard with the above wording shall be posted at the entrance to the structure. 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.

I. Section 106.7 Revocation of certificate of occupancy. If a notice of unsafe structure or structure unfit for human habitation 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.

J. Section 106.8 Vacant and open structures. When an unsafe structure or a structure unfit for human habitation is open for public entry at the time a placard is issued under Section 106.6, 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.

K. Section 106.9 Emergency repairs and demolition. To the extent permitted by the locality, the code official may authorize emergency repairs to unsafe structures or structures unfit for human habitation when it is determined that there is an imminent danger of any portion of the unsafe structure or structure unfit for human habitation 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 or structure unfit for human habitation fails to comply with a notice to demolish issued under Section 106.4 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.

L. Section 106.10 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 or unfit 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 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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