ISSUE: Why Does it Take So Long to Have a Code Violation Addressed?

FACT: Cited property owners are given a certain amount of time, depending on the violation, to correct any issues. Depending on the nature of the infraction, that timeframe could be anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days.

junk in a driveway​​​​​Code violations on private property are typically discovered through a complaint or as part of an inspector’s routine patrol. When a notice is issued, the process focuses on obtaining voluntary compliance from the property owner, who is provided time to address the violations. About 35,000 notices are written each year.

There are 22 inspectors who are responsible for ensuring compliance with state and city codes related to building and property maintenance. The codes are designed to keep the places where our residents live, work and play both safe and attractive.

There are two different categories of violations: Minor and major. A minor issue is non-life threatening, like a home that’s missing vinyl siding and has loose gutters. An issue like that could have a 30-day deadline to pass re-inspection.

Major issues are ones that pose an immediate concern to life and safety and have shorter deadlines. Depending on the circumstance, it could be as few as 24 hours to seven days to have the issue corrected. For example, having no smoke detectors in a residence, no running water or electricity, no heat in the winter or significant structural defects or damage.

Minor violations like unkempt lawns, trash and junk stored in a yard, inoperable or illegally stored vehicles, waste management violations and graffiti can be cited. Violations related to appearance may sound like a superficial issue, however, they can have a negative impact on the property values of a home and those around it if left unchecked.

If more time is needed to pass re-inspection, extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis. Requests for extensions must be submitted in writing. The contact information for the code inspector assigned to a notice of violation is listed on the back of the notice. Communication is key, and inspectors will work with property owners, within reason, to obtain voluntary compliance.

Most notices are resolved without issue because the violation is corrected.  However, in about 1,000 cases each year, the violations are escalated to the courts after all reasonable methods of obtaining compliance have failed.

Once a violation is escalated, enforcement is in the hands of the court. A judge can do anything from granting additional time for compliance to imposing punitive measures such as fines and jail time.

If you would like to report a potential code violation, please contact the Code Enforcement division at 385-4421. You are not required to leave your name as the complaint system is anonymous. To learn more about the Code Enforcement division, and the applicable state and city codes, please visit VBgov.com/codeenforcement.

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