City of Fredericksburg, VA
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
The City Council finds that residential rental housing, when not subject to periodic inspections to ensure compliance with applicable building maintenance regulations, may become unsafe, a public nuisance, and unfit for human habitation. The decline in the condition of residential rental housing can lead to a decline in neighborhood quality of life, neighborhood appearance, and the value of real estate. The purpose of this article is to protect the life, safety and health of residential rental housing tenants, and to preserve neighborhoods in which residential rental housing is located.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
BUILDING CODE
The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
BUILDING MAINTENANCE OFFICIAL
The code official charged with enforcement of the provisions of City Code Chapter 18, "Buildings and Building Regulations," Article IV, Existing Building Maintenance Code, and his or her qualified technical assistants.
CONDITIONS WHICH AFFECT SAFE, DECENT AND SANITARY LIVING CONDITIONS OF PERSONS OCCUPYING A RESIDENTIAL RENTAL DWELLING UNIT
Includes items that violate fire safety; lack of or poor condition of sanitary facilities; absence of adequate heating systems or equipment; items which affect the safe operation of electrical and mechanical systems; items which affect structural integrity of the building and/or the ability of the building envelope to keep out weather, or one or more other conditions that if not corrected would be reasonably expected to become conditions that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions of the occupants.
DISTRICT
A rental housing inspection district designated by the City Council pursuant to this article.
DWELLING UNIT
A building or structure or part thereof that is used for a home or residence by one or more persons who maintain a household. The term "dwelling unit" shall not include hospitals, nursing homes, convalescent homes or similar facilities providing medical care to the aged, infirm or disabled. The term "dwelling unit" shall not include a motel, roominghouse, or other accommodation used for transient occupancy.
MULTIPLE-FAMILY DEVELOPMENT
Any structure, consisting of 10 or more dwelling units on a single lot. A multiple-family development, commonly known as an apartment house, generally has a common outside entrance for all the dwelling units. The term shall not include mobile homes in a mobile home park or subdivision; nor shall such term include single-family detached dwellings, duplex dwellings, or townhouse dwellings under common ownership.
OWNER
The person shown on the current real estate assessment books or current real estate assessment records.
RESIDENTIAL RENTAL DWELLING UNIT
A dwelling unit that is leased or rented to one or more tenants month to month or for any period in excess of 30 days including, but not limited to, condominiums, manufactured or mobile homes, single-family detached dwellings, duplex dwellings, townhouse dwellings or multifamily dwellings (which shall include efficiency apartments and condominiums). 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 which has its own cooking and sleeping areas, and a bathroom, unless otherwise provided in the zoning ordinance by the local governing body. The term includes units within designated districts and individual units designated by City Council lying outside districts.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
In order to establish or enlarge a rental inspection district, the City Council shall make the following findings with respect to the district:
(1) 
There is a need to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the occupants of dwelling units inside the designated rental inspection districts;
(2) 
The residential rental dwelling units within the designated rental inspection districts are either:
(a) 
Blighted or in the process of deteriorating; or
(b) 
In need of inspection by the Building Maintenance Official to prevent deterioration, taking into account the number, age and condition of residential dwelling rental units inside said rental inspection districts; and
(3) 
The inspection of residential rental dwelling units inside the rental inspection districts is necessary to maintain safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for tenants and other residents living in the rental inspection districts.
B. 
In order to make an individual residential rental dwelling unit outside of a designated rental inspection district subject to this article, City Council shall make a separate finding with respect to each individual residential rental dwelling unit that:
(1) 
There is a need to protect the public health, welfare and safety of the occupants of that individual residential rental dwelling unit;
(2) 
The individual residential rental dwelling unit is either blighted or in the process of deteriorating; or
(3) 
There is evidence of violations of the building code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for tenants living in such individual residential rental dwelling unit.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
City Council shall establish or amend a rental inspection district by ordinance. City Council shall hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance prior to its adoption. Notice of the hearing shall be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper published or having general circulation in the City.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006; Ord. No. 10-28, 9-14-2010]
Based upon the findings of City Council as set forth in § 18-503 above, the following areas are included and hereby declared to be rental inspection districts which are subject to the requirements of this article:
A. 
The College Heights/College Terrace Rental Inspection District as depicted on the map attached hereto and labeled "College Heights/College Terrace Rental Inspection District." The implementation of the rental housing inspection program in this district is suspended beginning July 1, 2010, until funding for the program is restored. This suspension of duties includes without limitation the notice requirements of § 18-509, the inspections of property pursuant to § 18-510, and the issuance of certificates of compliance and periodic reinspections pursuant to § 18-513.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
Based upon the findings of City Council as set forth in § 18-503 above, the following individual residential rental dwelling units are made subject to the provisions of this article.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
No owner himself or by or through an agent shall rent or offer to rent, or permit a new tenant or tenants to occupy a residential rental dwelling unit within a rental inspection district or a designated individual residential rental dwelling outside a district without a valid certificate of exemption or a certificate of compliance issued by the Building Maintenance Official.
B. 
This requirement shall become effective on the first day of the month following the two-year anniversary of the establishment of a rental inspection district. It shall become effective on the first day of the month following the six-month anniversary of the designation of an individual residential rental dwelling unit outside a district.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
Upon designation of a rental inspection district by the City Council, the Building Maintenance Official shall give written notice by personal delivery or first class U.S. mail to all property owners located within the district of the requirement to notify the Building Maintenance Official of any real property of the owner located within the district that is a residential rental dwelling unit. The notice shall contain a plain language explanation of the requirements of this article. The mailing of said notice by the Building Maintenance Official shall be deemed sufficient notice for purposes of this article.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
Within 60 days of the designation of a district, the owner of any residential rental dwelling unit subject to this article shall notify the Building Maintenance Official in writing if the dwelling unit is used for residential rental purposes.
B. 
Thereafter, any owner of a dwelling unit in a rental inspection district shall notify the Building Maintenance Official in writing when a dwelling unit begins to be used for residential rental purposes at least 60 days prior to the commencement of the use.
C. 
Within 30 days of the transfer of ownership of a residential rental dwelling unit within a district, the new owner shall notify the Building Maintenance Official in writing of his ownership of the unit.
D. 
Such notice shall be submitted on a form provided by the Building Maintenance Official and shall contain the following information: The address and a brief description of the rental dwelling unit; the name, street address and telephone number of the owner of the property; the name, street address and telephone number of the managing agent, if any.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
The Building Maintenance Official shall cause an initial inspection to be made of each residential rental dwelling unit located within a rental inspection district within two years of the designation of the district for compliance with the provisions of the building code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants of such property. The Building Maintenance Official is hereby authorized to establish schedules to accomplish the inspection of residential rental dwelling units in different areas within the rental inspection district.
B. 
The Building Maintenance Official shall cause an initial inspection to be made of not less than two and not more than 10% of the residential rental dwelling units in a multiple-family development. If the Building Maintenance Official determines upon inspection of the sample that there are violations of the building code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants of the development, he or she may inspect as many residential rental dwelling units as necessary to enforce the building code.
C. 
The Building Maintenance Official shall inspect any individual residential rental dwelling unit that is outside a district within 90 days of the date the residential rental dwelling unit is made subject to this article.
D. 
The Building Maintenance Official shall conduct such follow-up inspections of a residential rental dwelling unit, after the initial or periodic inspection, as he or she deems necessary, until such time as the residential rental dwelling unit is brought into compliance with the provisions of the building code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions for the tenants.
E. 
For any unit that earns an exemption upon its initial or periodic inspection, the Building Maintenance Official may conduct such follow-up inspections as necessary, until such time as the unit complies with the other provisions of the building code.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
For the purpose of enforcing provisions of this division, the Building Maintenance Official shall have the right to inspect any residential rental dwelling unit within a district at any reasonable time. No inspection shall be conducted without the consent of the tenant, occupant, property owner or managing agent (if the property owner or managing agent have reserved a right of re-entry in order to inspect the premise) or pursuant to a duly issued administrative inspection warrant or as authorized by other lawful means.
B. 
In the event the Building Maintenance Official shall be denied access to a residential rental dwelling unit, he or she may apply for an administrative inspection warrant in order to gain access to the premises.
C. 
It shall be a violation of this division for any owner, managing agent, tenant, or other person, to deny the Building Maintenance Official access to any residential rental dwelling unit within a district after the Building Maintenance Official has obtained an administrative inspection warrant for such residential rental dwelling unit.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
A residential rental dwelling unit shall be exempt from an initial or periodic inspection under this article for a period of four years from the date of its certificate of occupancy. The owner of such a unit shall notify the Building Maintenance Official as required, and the Building Maintenance Official shall issue the owner a certificate of exemption, stating the date upon which the exemption expires.
B. 
If the Building Maintenance Official determines, upon the initial or periodic inspection of a residential rental dwelling unit, that there are no violations of the building code that affect the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions of the tenants of such unit, he or she shall provide to the owner a certificate of exemption from the provisions of this article for a period of four years from the date of inspection.
C. 
If the Building Maintenance Official determines that an exempt unit is in violation of a provision of the building code affecting the safe, decent and sanitary living conditions of the tenants during the exemption period, he or she may revoke the exemption.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
The Building Maintenance Official shall issue a certificate of compliance to any residential rental dwelling unit which passes inspection upon a follow-up inspection. The Building Maintenance Official shall periodically re-inspect each such residential rental dwelling unit subject to this article again on a two-year inspection cycle.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
The City Manager shall have the authority to establish fees for inspections, subject to the approval of the City Council. Such fees shall be published in the City administrative manual and shall be available for public inspection at the office of the City Manager or his designee. All changes to such fees shall be approved by resolution of the City Council.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
The sole penalty for the willful failure of an owner to comply with the written notification requirement shall be a civil penalty of $50.
[Ord. No. 06-03, 4-25-2006]
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any owner or managing agent to fail to comply with the requirements contained in this article.
B. 
Unless otherwise provided herein, the penalties imposed for a violation of this article shall be the penalties provided in Code of Virginia, § 36-106. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate punishable offense.
C. 
If any violation remains uncorrected at the time of conviction, the court shall order the violator to abate or remedy the violation and to bring the property into compliance with the building code. Except as otherwise provided by the court for good cause shown, any such violator shall abate or remedy the violation within six months of the date of conviction. Each day during which the violation continues after the court-ordered abatement period has ended shall constitute a separate offense.