Blighted Properties  

The Spot Blight Program                      

One way that Prince William County fights the effects of deterioration in neighborhoods is through the "Spot Blight Program".  It is administered by the Spot Blight Inspector of the Neighborhood Services Division. The program identifies 'blighted' properties and seeks to have unsafe structures repaired, renovated or demolished.  The County must use the least drastic alternative to remediate the blighted conditions. 

 
 

Authority

The County can request and ultimately require property owners to maintain structures so that they are safe for inhabitants and citizens of our communities. The State law allows the County to have the authority to repair, renovate or demolish structures if the owner does not maintain them. The County also has authority to resell properties. If the County incurs a cost, the cost will be charged to the property owner.

Blight Defined        
Blight is defined by the Code of Virginia as 'Any individual commercial industrial or residential structure or improvement that endangers the publics health safety or welfare because the structure or improvement upon the property is dilapidated deteriorated or violates minimum health and safety standards or any structure previously designated as blighted pursuant to Section 36-49.1:1 under the process for determination of 'spot blight.'


Prince William County adds its own criteria to this definition. The structure must have at least one of the following conditions present:
  • Vacant or boarded for at least one year
  • Subject of documented complaints (that is calls for PWC Police service graffiti incidents or Property Code complaints)
  • No longer maintained for useful occupancy
  • Lacks normal maintenance and upkeep

Achievements of the Spot Blight Program

Since 2002, the Spot Blight Program has brought 228 neglected properties back to a safe condition.  That's an average of 23.3 cases per year.  Each case is labor intensive because many times owners cannot be located or do not want to put money into renovating severely deteriorated properties. 

This enforcement work is important to all residents. Entire neighborhoods suffers when a property is allowed to decline to the point where it enters the Spot Blight Program.  Properties many times are unsecured and exhibit multiple violations for building maintenance, graffiti, tall grass and weeds, trash and debris. Without action, this one case often leads to decline in the surrounding neighborhood. 

It is essential and legally required that every citizen's property rights are protected. That means each spot blight violation requires many inspections and many conversations with the owner.  It requires numerous certified mailings and possible dates in court if the owner is not compliant.  Most of these properties require a significant amount of investment to return them to a safe condition or to demolish them.  The Spot Blight Program has been refined to ensure that issues relatededits  to unsafe properties are addressed in the fairest way possible. Most owners we encounter are eventually convinced to abide by the law and do comply.  Many owners have taken responsibility to demolish their blighted properties or repair them to a safe condition without costly or time-consuming court action. The 'before' and 'after' photos below show how an eyesore and true hazard can be made to restore the positive appearance of a neighborhood. 

SpotBlighAFTER.jpg
A neglected property can literally drag a neighborhood down with it.​
When property owners of neglected homes comply with County Ordinances, the positive difference for both the resident and the neighborhood is unmistakable. ​
  

Contact the Spot Blight Team

If you have questions about the Spot Blight Program please contact the Neighborhood Services Division of PWC's Department of Public Works at 703-792-7018 or nsd@pwcgov.org. Neighborhood Services is located at 5 County Complex Court, Suite 280, Woodbridge VA 22192.