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Building Maintenance Program

General Information about Code Enforcement

Roanoke's building maintenance ordinance (Chapter 7, Article II, of the Code of the City of Roanoke) adopts the Virginia Maintenance Code (VMC), as the minimum standard with regard to safety, sanitation, security and general maintenance for existing structures. The VMC is largely derived from the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) published by the International Code Council (ICC). ICC codes are used in many municipalities throughout the nation and can be found on their website.

For more details of what’s in the Virginia Maintenance Code the Building Maintenance Requirements booklet is available for your convenience.

The Virginia Maintenance Code is not a detailed code like those used for new construction. It is written in “broad” language that applies to a wide variety of deferred maintenance issues and unsafe conditions for all types of structures, from old houses and outbuildings to commercial buildings. Common problems addressed by inspectors under the Virginia Maintenance Code include: electrical and mechanical hazards, a lack of electricity or water service, peeling paint, inadequate heat, no hot water, roof leakage, overcrowding, defective hardware, damaged windows and screens, poor bathroom ventilation, loose handrails, substandard floor coverings, tripping hazards, holes and cracks, weak structural support, unsanitary conditions, accumulations of clutter or hoarding, smoke detectors, inadequate egress, damaged fixtures and mechanical devices.



THE PROCESS
  1. The city receives a referral or complaint from a tenant or concerned citizen, neighborhood group, outside agency or another city department.
  2. An inspector is assigned to the case depending upon the location of the property.
  3. If it is a tenant complaint an appointment for an inspection is arranged.
  4. The inspector gathers available information on the property and its ownership or management, and any outstanding orders.
  5. If the property is owner-occupied and an extreme hazard or inadequacy exists a warrant may be obtained if entry is refused. The inspector may also coordinate with Social Services, the Police Dept. or Fire EMS for an inspection.
  6. An inspection of the property is performed.
  7. If there is not an extreme hazard justifying a search warrant, and the owner-occupant refuses entry, exterior code violations may still be cited.
  8. If code violations are found during an inspection either a “Notice of Violation” (NoV) repair order or a “Notice of Unsafe Structure” (NofUS) condemnation order will be prepared and sent. In the order a deadline will be given for completion of the required repairs and maintenance.
      • The NoV is for general repairs and maintenance issues that are not serious enough to require residents to vacate the premises.
      • The NofUS is a condemnation, and the code violations are considered severe enough that the occupants will be required to vacate the premises for their safety.
  9. The property is posted with the order and with a condemnation placard, if a NofUS.
  10. If a NofUS must be issued for an absence of utilities (which is condemnable under the code) a reasonable grace period is given for their restoration, followed by condemnation and posting if not restored.
  11. Given the extent of repairs required the following timeframes are used as a guideline. These guidelines are tempered by the particulars of the case:
      • Extensive fire or structural damage: no grace period, immediate condemnation
      • No heat or lack of an essential utility: 48 hours, weekends and holidays excluded
      • Boarding a structure: 10 days
      • Repair-Raze: if the structure has already been boarded and secured, 30-60 days to begin restoration or demolition
      • General Repairs: up to 3 months depending upon the season.
  12. Upon receiving the notice, if the owner wishes to formally appeal it, the appeal must be requested in writing within 14 days of receiving the notice.
  13. If a notice is appealed an appeal board will be set up to review the case, and the terms may (or may not) be adjusted depending upon the specific circumstances.
  14. Absent an appeal or extension, when the deadline has been reached (or sooner if the owner requests it) the inspector re-inspects the property.
  15. If the code violations have been abated the case is closed.
  16. If the owner has made sufficient progress on repairs the inspector may grant an extension.
  17. If the compliance deadline arrives and no work has been done the owner may be summoned to court.
  18. The court process is continued until compliance is achieved, the property is sold, or the structure is removed.
  19. If the property is sold, a new order will be sent to the new owner.
  20. In the case of unsafe structures that must be demolished every attempt is made to get the owner to raze and remove the structure, which culminates in court action.
  21. If the court determines that owner is unable to follow through, usually due to financial hardship, the City will take bids from a pool of available contractors and pay for the demolition.
  22. The cost of a demolition performed by the City is placed as a lien on the parcel.
  23. It the City has removed the structure staff begins the billing/lien process for the demolition.


Note that it may take several months for the process to play out before a property maintenance violation is actually abated. During this time, the city is actively pursuing abatement of the violation, and we appreciate your patience.

TO REPORT A VIOLATION

IF YOU WERE CITED...

If you were cited for a violation and wish to speak to the inspector handling the case or would like information on a property, please call the Code Enforcement Office at 540-853-2344. Our goal is always to obtain voluntary compliance.