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Property Code Enforcement

 Property Code Enforcement

 

Neighborhood Services' Mission is to assist residents understand, abide by, and raise concerns about compliance with property codes. The codes are the basis for and guide the way we work together to maintain adequate health, safety and quality of life in the places where we live, work and enjoy Prince William County. 

Property Code Enforcement staff members work in the Neighborhood Services, a Division within the Department of Public Works in Prince William County.  We work to ensure our communities are properly maintained by educating and enforcing, when necessary the following:

'What happens when I report a possible violation?'

When you contact Neighborhood Services, Intake Technicians will determine if your issue is subject to local regulations and requires that a Property Code Enforcement (PCE) case be opened or if your concern needs to be referred to another agency.  Property Code Enforcement cases are assigned to an inspector who will contact you via the contact information you provide.  You will also be given a PCE case number for tracking on the Citizen Portal. The inspector will make an initial visit to investigate the concern, typically within five business days. The inspector will keep you informed of the progress of their inspections and let you know the outcome of the investigation.

Enforcement of the PWC Zoning Ordinance

Neighborhood Services staff are also responsible for enforcing the Zoning Ordinances of Prince William County.  The goal of this enforcement is to ensure properties in Prince William County are maintained and used in accordance with the County's adopted land use requirements. The most common violations are:

  • Inoperative vehicles on private property

  • Prohibited commercial vehicles on private property (please call for clarification on this type of violation)

  • Storage of items outside in the public view including under a porch or deck  or inside a carport such as trash containers car parts tools construction materials etc.

  • Dump heap/trash storage

  • Illegal accessory structures

  • Illegal businesses*

  • Over occupancy

  • Graffiti

*Illegal businesses are those who have not secured proper permits and/or zoning approval to operate within a residential neighborhood. 

It is important to note:  1) Inoperative vehicles on the public streets should be reported to the Prince William County Police non-emergency number at 703-792-6500.  2) Neighborhood Services staff do not issue zoning permits or approvals. Permits and approvals are issued by Zoning Administration within the Planning Office 703-792-7615. 

Enforcement of the Building Maintenance Code

Neighborhood Services staff are also responsible for enforcing the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) part III known as the Virginia Maintenance Code as it relates to existing structures.  It is our responsibility to confirm existing structures are structurally sound and in a safe condition in accordance with the minimum standards established by the Virginia Maintenance Code. 

Common violations include:

  • Exposed & Unprotected exterior coverings
  • Exterior materials in disrepair or deteriorated
  • Plumbing fixtures leaking or not operational
  • Electrical hazards 
  • Mechanical equipment not operable or safe to operate

Neighborhood Services staff does not issue building or trade permits.  Construction permits are issued by Development Services,  Building Development Division 703-792-6930 .

EXPLAINING THE CODE ENFORCEMENT PROCESS             

What if a Resident Disagrees with an Enforcement Decision? 

The decision as to whether a property is in violation of a relevant property code is based on very specific parameters.  The process protects the rights and interests of all residents and property owners in addition to the health and safety of neighbors and others who are in proximity of the property.  If a resident disagrees with an Inspector’s findings, he or she does have recourse.  If the Inspector involved does not answer all of the resident’s questions to their satisfaction, a resident can ask to communicate with the Inspector’s Supervisor, a Chief Property Code Inspector.  Contact a Chief Inspector by either calling Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018 or via email at nsd@pwcgov.org to request additional information regarding the violation process. 

 

Spot Blight Program

Neighborhood Services Staff is also responsible for managing the Spot Blight Ordinance adopted by Prince William County.  Spot Blight enforcement occurs when unsafe and rundown structures are identified for abatement. The Virginia Code defines 'blighted property" as a structure that endangers the public's health safety or welfare due to dilapidation, deterioration or is in violation of minimum health and safety standards. Due process in these cases takes a significant amount of time.  Neighborhood Services staff manages this process to prevent deterioration in our neighborhoods.

 

Illegal Sign Program

This program authorizes Prince William County to enforce state laws regarding illegal placement of advertising signs on wire or stick-style wood posts in the "public right of way" which includes the medians, roadways, shoulders and areas alongside public roadways up to and sometimes beyond adjacent sidewalks. (For more information on the exact position of the VDOT Right of Way, please see the County Mapper GIS program.) NO advertising signs of any kind are permitted in the VDOT right of way.  Neighborhood Services staff has primary enforcement responsibility and inspections are conducted throughout the County on an on-going basis.  Signs are removed by Neighborhood Services staff members including the Litter Control Crews.  Fines of up to $100 may be imposed for each sign found to be in violation.

 

 Weeds and Tall Grass 

Tall grass and weeds taller than 12" in densely developed areas are unsafe.  Tall grass and weeds can lead to rodent infestations and reflect that the property isn't cared for - a potential invitation to crime.  Owners of residential property of less than two acres must keep grass and weeds cut to a maximum height of 12 inches. Property owners who do not comply can be issued a single season violation.  If not remedied within 48 hours may result in the County's contractors mowing the property to bring it back into compliance, at the owner's expense. This enforcement cycle repeats the entire growing season based upon the first and only notice given to each property owner of the affected parcel. 

 

Other Assistance 

Other agencies may be able to assist with issues of concern referred when not enforced by Neighborhood Services are:  


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