CODES

ADOPTS WITH AMENDMENTS:

International Property Maintenance Code 2012 (IPMC 2012)

Copyright

Preface

Chapter 1 Administration

Chapter 2 Definitions

Chapter 3 General Requirements

Chapter 4 Light, Ventilation and Occupancy Limitations

Chapter 5 Plumbing Facilities and Fixture Requirements

Chapter 6 Mechanical and Electrical Requirements

Chapter 7 Fire Safety Requirements

Chapter 8 Referenced Standards

Appendix A Boarding Standard

The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, Part III, Maintenance, may be cited as the “Virginia Maintenance Code,” or as the “VMC.”
Chapters 2–8 of the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code, published by the International Code Council, Inc., are adopted and incorporated by reference to be an enforceable part of the VMC. The term “IPMC” means the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code, published by the International Code Council, Inc. Any codes and standards referenced in the IPMC are also considered to be part of the incorporation by reference, except that such codes and standards are used only to the prescribed extent of each such reference.
A dual numbering system is used in the VMC to correlate the numbering system of the Virginia Administrative Code with the numbering system of the IPMC. IPMC numbering system designations are provided in the catch-lines of the Virginia Administrative Code sections and cross references between sections or chapters of the Virginia Maintenance Code use only the IPMC numbering system designations. The term “chapter” is used in the context of the numbering system of the IPMC and may mean a chapter in the VMC, a chapter in the IPMC or a chapter in a referenced code or standard, depending on the context of the use of the term. The term “chapter” is not used to designate a chapter of the Virginia Administrative Code, unless clearly indicated.
The VMC is comprised of the combination of (i) the provisions of Chapter 1, Administration, which are established herein, (ii) Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC, which are incorporated by reference in Section 101.2, and (iii) the changes to the text of the incorporated chapters of the IPMC which are specifically identified. The terminology “changes to the text of the incorporated chapters of the IPMC which are specifically identified” shall also be referred to as the “state amendments to the IPMC.” Such state amendments to the IPMC are set out using corresponding chapter and section numbers of the IPMC numbering system. In addition, since Chapter 1 of the IPMC is not incorporated as part of the VMC, any reference to a provision of Chapter 1 of the IPMC in the provisions of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC is generally invalid. However, where the purpose of such a reference would clearly correspond to a provision of Chapter 1 established herein, then the reference may be construed to be a valid reference to such corresponding Chapter 1 provision.
The term “this code,” or “the code,” where used in the provisions of Chapter 1, in Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC, or in the state amendments to the IPMC, means the VMC, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. The term “this code,” or “the code,” where used in a code or standard referenced in the IPMC, means that code or standard, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. The term “USBC” where used in this code means Part I of the USBC, known as the Virginia Construction Code, or the VCC, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. In addition, the use of notes in Chapter 1 is to provide information only and shall not be construed as changing the meaning of any code provision. Notes in the IPMC, in the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC, and in the state amendments to the IPMC, may modify the content of a related provision and shall be considered to be a valid part of the provision, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

The provisions of this code shall be used as follows:

  1. The provisions of Chapter 1 of this code supersede any provisions of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.
  2. The provisions of Chapter 1 of this code supersede any provisions of the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.
  3. The state amendments to the IPMC supersede any provisions of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.
  4. The state amendments to the IPMC supersede any provisions of the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.
  5. The provisions of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC supersede any provisions of the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.

The provisions of Chapter 1 establish administrative requirements, which include but are not limited to provisions relating to the scope of the code, enforcement, fees, permits, inspections and disputes. Any provisions of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC or any provisions of the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC which address the same subject matter to a lesser or greater extent are deleted and replaced by the provisions of Chapter 1. Further, any administrative requirements contained in the state amendments to the IPMC shall be given the same precedence as the provisions of Chapter 1. Notwithstanding the above, where administrative requirements of Chapters 2–8 of the IPMC or of the codes and standards referenced in the IPMC are specifically identified as valid administrative requirements in Chapter 1 of this code or in the state amendments to the IPMC, then such requirements are not deleted and replaced.

Note: The purpose of this provision is to eliminate overlap, conflicts and duplication by providing a single standard for administrative, procedural and enforcement requirements of this code.

The definitions of terms used in this code are contained in Chapter 2 along with specific provisions addressing the use of definitions. Terms may be defined in other chapters or provisions of the code and such definitions are also valid.

Note: The order of precedence outlined in Section 101.6 may be determinative in establishing how to apply the definitions in the IPMC and in the referenced codes and standards.

In accordance with Section 36-103 of the Code of Virginia, the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development may adopt and promulgate as part of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, building regulations that facilitate the maintenance, rehabilitation, development and reuse of existing buildings at the least possible cost to ensure the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. Further, in accordance with Section 36-99 of the Code of Virginia, the purpose of this code is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, provided that buildings and structures should be permitted to be maintained at the least possible cost consistent with recognized standards of health, safety, energy conservation and water conservation, including provisions necessary to prevent overcrowding, rodent or insect infestation, and garbage accumulation; and barrier-free provisions for the physically handicapped and aged.
In accordance with Section 36-98 of the Code of Virginia, the VMC shall supersede the building codes and regulations of the counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions and state agencies.
This code shall not regulate those buildings and structures specifically exempt from the VCC, except that existing industrialized buildings and manufactured homes shall not be exempt from this code.
This code prescribes regulations for the maintenance of all existing buildings and structures and associated equipment, including regulations for unsafe buildings and structures.
Buildings and structures 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.
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.
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.

In accordance with Section 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 percent 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 (Section 55-217 et seq.) or Chapter 13.2 (Section 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 Section 36-105 of the Code of Virginia to enforce the USBC.

Unless otherwise provided for in Section 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.

This section establishes the requirements for enforcement of this code in accordance with Section 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.

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 present sworn testimony to a magistrate or 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. 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.

In accordance with Section 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 percent, the pending enforcement action shall continue to be enforced against the owner.
In accordance with Section 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.
In accordance with Section 36-98.1 of the Code of Virginia, this code shall be applicable to stateowned buildings and structures. Acting through the Division of Engineering and Buildings, the Department of General Services shall function as the building official for stateowned buildings.
State enforcement personnel shall comply with the applicable requirements of Sections 104.4.2 through 104.4.4 for certification, periodic maintenance training, and continuing education.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Code officials and technical assistants shall attend periodic maintenance training as designated by DHCD. In addition to the periodic maintenance training required above, code officials and technical assistants shall attend 16 hours of continuing education every two years as approved by DHCD. If a code official or technical assistant possesses more than one BHCD certificate, the 16 hours shall satisfy the continuing education requirement for all BHCD certificates.
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 (Section 2.2- 3100 et seq.) of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each code official charged with the enforcement of this code and that 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.
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.
Upon findings by the code official that violations of this code exist, the code official shall issue a correction notice or notice of violation to the owner or the person responsible for the maintenance of the structure. Work done to correct violations of this code subject to the permit, inspection and approval provisions of the VCC shall not be construed as authorization to extend the time limits established for compliance with this code.
The correction notice shall be a written notice of the defective conditions. The correction notice shall require correction of the violation or violations within a reasonable time unless an emergency condition exists as provided under the unsafe building provisions of Section 105. Upon request, the correction notice shall reference the code section that serves as the basis for the defects and shall state that such defects shall be corrected and reinspected in a reasonable time designated by the code official.
If the code official determines there are violations of this code other than those for unsafe structures, unsafe equipment or structures unfit for human occupancy under Section 105, the code official may issue a notice of violation to be communicated promptly in writing to the owner or the person responsible for the maintenance or use of the building or structure in lieu of a correction notice as provided for in Section 104.5.4.1. In addition, the code official shall issue a notice of violation for any uncorrected violation remaining from a correction notice established in Section 104.5.4.1. A notice of violation shall be issued by the code official before initiating legal proceedings unless the conditions violate the unsafe building conditions of Section 105 and the provisions established therein are followed. The code official shall provide the section numbers to the owner for any code provision cited in the notice of violation. The notice shall require correction of the violation or violations within a reasonable time unless an emergency condition exists as provided under the building provisions of Section 105. The owner or person to whom the notice of violation has been issued shall be responsible for contacting the code official within the time frame established for any reinspections to assure the violations have been corrected. The code official will be responsible for making such inspection and verifying the violations have been corrected. In addition, the notice of violation shall indicate the right of appeal by referencing the appeals section of this code.

The code official shall coordinate inspections and administrative orders with any other state or local agencies having related inspection authority and shall coordinate those inspections required by the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (13VAC5-51) for maintenance of fire protection devices, equipment and assemblies so that the owners and occupants will not be subjected to numerous inspections or conflicting orders.

Note: The Fire Prevention Code requires the fire official to coordinate such inspections with the code official.

If the responsible party has not complied with the notice of violation, the code official shall submit a written request to the legal counsel of the locality to institute the appropriate legal proceedings to restrain, correct or abate the violation or to require the removal or termination of the use of the building or structure involved. In cases where the locality so authorizes, the code official may issue or obtain a summons or warrant.
Penalties for violations of this code shall be as set out in Section 36-106 of the Code of Virginia. The successful prosecution of a violation of the code shall not preclude the institution of appropriate legal action to require correction or abatement of a violation.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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 104.5.4 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.

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.
If the notice is unable to be issued by personal service as required by Section 105.4, 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.
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.
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.
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 105.6, 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.

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 immediate 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 105.4 in the time period stipulated, the code official shall be permitted to cause the structure to be demolished. In accordance with Sections 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 (Section 58.1-3490 et seq.) and 4 (Section 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 Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia unless determined necessary by the code official.

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.
In accordance with Section 36-105 of the Code of Virginia, there shall be established within each local enforcing agency a Local Board of Building Code Appeals (LBBCA). Whenever a county or a municipality does not have such a LBBCA, the local governing body shall enter into an agreement with the local governing body of another county or municipality or with some other agency, or a state agency approved by DHCD for such appeals resulting therefrom. Fees may be levied by the local governing body in order to defray the cost of such appeals. The LBBCA for hearing appeals under the VCC shall be permitted to serve as the appeals board required by this section. The locality is responsible for maintaining a duly constituted LBBCA prepared to hear appeals within the time limits established in this section. The LBBCA shall meet as necessary to assure a duly constituted board, appoint officers as necessary, and receive such training on the code as may be appropriate or necessary from staff of the locality.
The LBBCA shall consist of at least five members appointed by the locality for a specific term of office established by written policy. Alternate members may be appointed to serve in the absence of any regular members and as such, shall have the full power and authority of the regular members. Regular and alternate members may be reappointed. Written records of current membership, including a record of the current chairman and secretary shall be maintained in the office of the locality. In order to provide continuity, the terms of the members may be of different length so that less than half will expire in any one-year period.
The LBBCA shall annually select one of its regular members to serve as chairman. When the chairman is not present at an appeal hearing, the members present shall select an acting chairman. The locality or the chief executive officer of the locality shall appoint a secretary to the LBBCA to maintain a detailed record of all proceedings. Members of the LBBCA shall be selected by the locality on the basis of their ability to render fair and competent decisions regarding application of the USBC and shall to the extent possible, represent different occupational or professional fields relating to the construction industry. At least one member should be an experienced builder; at least one member should be an RDP, and at least one member should be an experienced property manager. Employees or officials of the locality shall not serve as members of the LBBCA.
No member shall hear an appeal in which that member has a conflict of interest in accordance with the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (Section 2.2-3100 et seq. of the Code of Virginia). Members shall not discuss the substance of an appeal with any other party or their representatives prior to any hearings.
Any person aggrieved by the local enforcing agency’s application of this code or the refusal to grant a modification to the provisions of this code may appeal to the LBBCA. The applicant shall submit a written request for appeal to the LBBCA within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the decision being appealed. The application shall contain the name and address of the owner of the building or structure and, in addition, the name and address of the person appealing, when the applicant is not the owner. A copy of the code official’s decision shall be submitted along with the application for appeal and maintained as part of the record. The application shall be marked by the LBBCA to indicate the date received. Failure to submit an application for appeal within the time limit established by this section shall constitute acceptance of a code official’s decision.
The LBBCA shall meet within 30 calendar days after the date of receipt of the application for appeal, except that a period of up to 45 calendar days shall be permitted where the LBBCA has regularly scheduled monthly meetings. A longer time period shall be permitted if agreed to by all the parties involved in the appeal. A notice indicating the time and place of the hearing shall be sent to the parties in writing to the addresses listed on the application at least 14 calendar days prior to the date of the hearing, except that a lesser time period shall be permitted if agreed to by all the parties involved in the appeal. When a quorum of the LBBCA is not present at a hearing to hear an appeal, any party involved in the appeal shall have the right to request a postponement of the hearing. The LBBCA shall reschedule the appeal within 30 calendar days of the postponement, except that a longer time period shall be permitted if agreed to by all the parties involved in the appeal.

All hearings before the LBBCA shall be open meetings and the appellant, the appellant’s representative, the locality’s representative and any person whose interests are affected by the code official’s decision in question shall be given an opportunity to be heard. The chairman shall have the power and duty to direct the hearing, rule upon the acceptance of evidence and oversee the record of all proceedings. The LBBCA shall have the power to uphold, reverse or modify the decision of the official by a concurring vote of a majority of those present. Decisions of the LBBCA shall be final if no further appeal is made. The decision of the LBBCA shall be by resolution signed by the chairman and retained as part of the record of the appeal. Copies of the resolution shall be sent to all parties by certified mail. In addition, the resolution shall contain the following wording:

“Any person who was a party to the appeal may appeal to the State Review Board by submitting an application to such Board within 21 calendar days upon receipt by certified mail of this resolution. Application forms are available from the Office of the State Review Board, 600 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 371-7150.”

After final determination by the LBBCA in an appeal, any person who was a party to the appeal may further appeal to the State Review Board. In accordance with Section 36-98.2 of the Code of Virginia for state-owned buildings and structures, appeals by an involved state agency from the decision of the code official for state-owned buildings or structures shall be made directly to the State Review Board. The application for appeal shall be made to the State Review Board within 21 calendar days of the receipt of the decision to be appealed. Failure to submit an application within that time limit shall constitute an acceptance of the code official’s decision. For appeals from a LBBCA, a copy of the code official’s decision and the resolution of the LBBCA shall be submitted with the application for appeal to the State Review Board. Upon request by the Office of the State Review Board, the LBBCA shall submit a copy of all pertinent information from the record of the appeal. In the case of appeals involving state-owned buildings or structures, the involved state agency shall submit a copy of the code official’s decision and other relevant information with the application for appeal to the State Review Board. Procedures of the State Review Board are in accordance with Article 2 (Section 36-108 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 36 of the Code of Virginia. Decisions of the State Review Board shall be final if no further appeal is made.
Resources