Richmond VA > Planning and Development Review > Property Maintenance

Last Updated: 2015-07-20

The Mission of the Code Enforcement Division is to protect all citizens and visitor's health and safety and to enrich and assist in the support of vibrant, economically strong neighborhoods and communities through education and enforcement of property maintenance regulations.

Most property owners take pride in their properties and routinely maintain them to ensure their safety as well as their neighbors'. Exterior maintenance maintains a building in compliance with the Virginia Maintenance Code as well as helping to keep the property aesthetically pleasing.

Sometimes, however, the city must take steps to encourage property owners to maintain their properties. Code Enforcement is one tool the City of Richmond uses to accomplish this goal.

The division also issues Demolition Permits and Certificate of Occupancy permits for residential uses.

The Code Enforcement Process

The process begins with an inspection of the property including all buildings, garages and sheds. An inspection also includes yards, sidewalks and alleys.

Owners whose properties are in violation will receive notices of violation specific to the type of violation found. The notice will allow a specified period of time to correct the violations; in some cases repairs may require a permit. If it is a rental property the tenant may also receive a notice and be held responsible for the corrective actions. Each notice contains the contact information for the code enforcement inspector who cited the deficiencies. If you receive a notice you should contact the inspector to review the violations cited and discuss any additional information that may be beneficial to both parties.

When violations are not corrected within the allowed time, the responsible party may be summoned to court. Corrective actions may be performed by the City and a tax lien placed on the property.

Property Maintenance Codes

Some of the more common items that must be maintained are as follows.

  • Remove any accumulated trash or refuse from your yard, sidewalk area and alley.
  • Maintain the area from your yard to the center of the alley.
  • Cut grass and weeds to less than 12 inches in height.
  • Trim any vegetation that protrudes into the alley, sidewalk or public right-of-way.
  • Ensure that all vehicles on your property are in operating condition and display current license plates or a current state inspection sticker unless the vehicle is fully enclosed in a garage.
  • Ensure that all structures including houses, garages, sheds, walls and fences are structurally sound and in good repair.
  • Secure vacant buildings against unauthorized entry.

To report a property maintenance violation or to make a request, please use the Citizens' Request System.

Stairways, porches, decks, balconies, handrails, and guard rails must be properly anchored and able to safely support a normal weight load. Vacant buildings must be secured against entry pending demolition or repair.

For more detailed information you may view the the following documents.

Vacant Building Registry

The data in the Vacant Building List is collected by the City of Richmond Property Maintenance Division and is extracted from information collected by Inspectors during their daily inspections. It is not a violation for a building to be vacant but when a building is found to be vacant, it is noted in the department’s tracking system and the property is monitored until such time as it is reoccupied and code compliant. If the property is code compliant no action is taken other than monitoring. It a building is found to be non code compliant a notice of violation may be issued and other actions taken. Once the building is occupied, it is removed from the Vacant Building List.

Vacant Building Registration Information

A building must be registered with the Commissioner of Buildings when it has been continuously vacant for over 12 months and meets the definition of “derelict” as found in the Code of Virginia §15.2-907.1. Registration requires the completion of the registry form and submission of the $100.00 annual fee. Failure to register shall result in a two hundred dollar ($200.00) civil penalty or in a two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) civil penalty if the property is located in a conservation or redevelopment area or in a designated blighted area. Upon re-occupancy, the owner shall notify the department of planning and development review in writing.

A vacant building may contain more than one dwelling or unit. For example, if you have a quadplex under one roof and three units are unoccupied; this is not a vacant building. A building is not deemed vacant until it is completely unoccupied. The same principal applies to commercial structures.

If you have questions regarding the Vacant Building List, please contact the Vacant Building Coordinator,
Mark Bridgman at (804)646-6359, or visit Room G-12 in City Hall.

Code of Virginia – Definition of Blighted

Authority to require removal, repair, etc., of buildings that are declared to be derelict. Any locality that has a real estate tax abatement program in accordance with this section may, by ordinance, provide that:
1. The owners of property therein shall at such time or times as the governing body may prescribe submit a plan to demolish or renovate any building that has been declared a “derelict building.” For purposes of this section, “derelict building” shall mean a residential or nonresidential building or structure, whether or not construction has been completed, that might endanger the public’s health, safety, or welfare and for a continuous period in excess of six months, it has been (i) vacant, (ii) boarded up in accordance with the building code, and (iii) not lawfully connected to electric service from a utility service provider or not lawfully connected to any required water or sewer service from a utility service provider.

Available Financial Assistance

If you are conducting a major rehabilitation to an older property, you may be eligible for Richmond's Tax Abatement Program for Rehabilitation of Real Estate that may qualify you for tax abatement for up to ten years. Other programs are available that may assist you depending on your circumstances; those programs are listed in our links.

Richmond Rehabilitation of Real Estate Tax Program: Assessor's Office

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