Chapter 15.20
UNSAFE BUILDINGS*

Sections:

15.20.010    Application of chapter.

15.20.020    Appeals from decisions made under chapter.

15.20.030    Applicability.

15.20.040    Inspection.

15.20.050    Notice to repair or demolish.

15.20.060    Restoration.

15.20.070    Vacation of premises.

15.20.080    Demolition or repair by city in emergencies.

15.20.090    Closing of adjacent streets, buildings, etc.

*Charter reference – Authority of council as to dangerous buildings, § 11(17).

State law reference – Authority of city with respect to unsafe buildings and other structures, Code of Virginia, § 15.1-11.2.

15.20.010 Application of chapter.

This chapter governs unsafe buildings and structures and all parts thereof, including residential housing, which existed or were under construction prior to September 1, 1973, and new buildings and structures built after September 1, 1973. (Code 1964, §§ 8-46, 8-47; Code 1985, § 9-86).

15.20.020 Appeals from decisions made under chapter.

Appeals of decisions of the building official or code official under this chapter shall be to the board of building code appeals in accordance with the provisions of Section 106, Appeals of the Virginia Uniform Building Code, Volume II, Building Maintenance Code, as adopted and amended by the State Board of Housing and Community Development. (Code 1964, § 8-48; Code 1985, § 9-87; Ord. 9-25-86; Ord. 2-27-97).

15.20.030 Applicability.

This chapter shall apply to buildings and their equipment that fail to comply with the Building Maintenance Code through damage, deterioration, infestation, improper maintenance, or for other reasons, and thereby become unsafe, unsanitary, or deficient in adequate exit facilities, or which constitute a hazard or public nuisance, or are otherwise dangerous to human life, health, or safety, or the public welfare. All such buildings or other structures declared by the code official to be a public nuisance or other structures declared by the code official to be a public nuisance or unfit for human habitation shall either be: made safe through compliance with this code, or be vacated and secured against public entry, or taken down and removed as determined by the code official. A vacant building, unsecured or open at door or window, may be deemed a fire hazard and unsafe within the meaning of this section. (Code 1964, § 8-46; Code 1985, § 9-88; Ord. 2-27-97).

15.20.040 Inspection.

The building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, shall inspect every building or structure reported as dangerous or unsafe structurally or as constituting a fire hazard and he shall cause a report thereof to be filed in a docket of unsafe structures and premises, stating the use of the building or structure and the nature and estimated amount of damages, if any, caused by collapse or failure. (Code 1964, § 8-46; Code 1985, § 9-89; Ord. 9-25-86, § 6).

15.20.050 Notice to repair or demolish.

(1) The governing body of the city, through its agents and/or employees, may remove, repair, or secure any building, wall, or any other structure which might endanger the public health or safety of the occupants of the building or other residents of the city wherein the owner and lien holder of such property, after reasonable notice and a reasonable time to do so, has failed to remove, repair, or secure said building, wall, or other structure. For the purposes of this section, repair may include maintenance work to the exterior of a building to prevent deterioration of the building or to adjacent buildings. For purposes of this section, reasonable notice shall include a written notice (a) mailed by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, sent to the last known address of the property owner and lien holder and (b) published in a newspaper having general circulation within the city once a week for two successive weeks. No action of the city to remove, repair, or secure such building, wall, or other structure may be taken until at least 30 days following the later of the return of the receipt or newspaper publication.

(2) After complying with the notice provisions set forth above and in the event the governing body of the city, through its agents and/or employees, removes, repairs, or secures such building, wall, or other structure, the costs and expenses thereof shall be chargeable to and paid by the owner of such property and may be collected by the city as taxes and levies are collected.

(3) Every charge authorized by this section with which the owner of such property shall have been assessed and which remains unpaid, shall constitute a lien against such property ranking on a parity with liens for unpaid local taxes and enforceable in the same manner as provided in Articles 3 (Section 58.1-3940 et seq.) and 4 (Section 58.1-3965 et seq.) of Chapter 39 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia, as amended.

(4) The remedy provided in this section is in addition to any other remedies provided by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, Volume II, Building Maintenance Code, adopted herein in SCC 15.10.010. (Code 1964, § 8-46; Code 1985, § 9-90; Ord. 9-25-86, § 7; Ord. 2-27-97).

15.20.060 Restoration.

A building or structure described in a notice given pursuant to SCC 15.20.050 may be restored to a safe condition, provided the change of use or occupancy is not contemplated or compelled by reason of such restoration, except that, if the damage or cost of restoration is in excess of 50 percent of its replacement value, exclusive of foundation, such building or structure shall be made to comply, in all respects, with the requirements for materials and methods of construction of new buildings or structures. (Code 1964, § 8-46; Code 1985, § 9-91).

15.20.070 Vacation of premises.

When, in the opinion of the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, there is actual and immediate danger of failure or collapse of a building or structure or any part thereof which would endanger life, or when any building or structure or part thereof has fallen and life is endangered by the occupation of the building or structure, the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, is hereby authorized and empowered to order and require the inmates and occupants to vacate the building or structure forthwith. He shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such building or structure a notice reading as follows:

This building or structure is unsafe and its use or occupancy has been prohibited by the building official (or the code official in appropriate cases) and it shall be unlawful for any person to enter this building or structure except for the purpose of making the required repairs or of demolishing the same.

(Code 1964, § 8-47; Code 1985, § 9-92; Ord. 9-25-86, § 8).

15.20.080 Demolition or repair by city in emergencies.

(1) When, in the opinion of the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, there is actual and immediate danger of collapse or failure of a building or structure or any part thereof which would endanger life, he shall cause the necessary work to be done to demolish the building or structure or to render it temporarily safe whether or not the legal procedure described in this chapter has been instituted.

(2) For the purpose of this section, the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, shall employ the necessary labor and materials to perform the required work as expeditiously as possible.

(3) Costs incurred in the performance of emergency work or demolition under this section shall be paid from the city treasury, on certificate of the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, and the city attorney shall institute appropriate action against the owner of the premises where the unsafe building or structure was located for the recovery of such costs. (Code 1964, § 8-47; Code 1985, § 9-93; Ord. 9-25-86, § 9).

15.20.090 Closing of adjacent streets, buildings, etc.

When necessary for the public safety, the building official, or the code official in appropriate cases, may temporarily close sidewalks, streets, buildings, structures and other places adjacent to an unsafe building or structure and prohibit the same from being used. (Code 1964, § 8-47; Code 1985, § 9-94; Ord. 9-25-86, § 10).