Condition of Private Property Ordinance

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The purpose of Code Enforcement is to protect the public health, safety and welfare in existing buildings used for dwelling purposes. The excerpt below allows users to quickly and accurately determine how Chapter 10, Article II. Condition of Private Property directly affects the residents and has been considered for codification in each supplement.

§10-12. Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in this article, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Danger or hazard to public health or safety”  means a condition, as determined by the County Manager or his designee, in which it is reasonably certain or foreseeable that the healthful or sanitary condition or safety of the general body of people in the County is being or will be reduced or that the healthful or sanitary conditions or safety of persons whom it is in the general County interest to protect is being reduced.  Dangers to health or safety may include, by way of illustration and not limitation, trees or parts thereof in danger of falling on the County right-of-way or other public lands, and conditions which may cause disease (including allergic reactions), harbor vermin and other animals, provide shelter or cover for unlawful activities, or be a source for the spread of litter or weeds to the property of others.

“Infestation” means the presence within or around property of any rats.

“Inoperative motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer” means any motor vehicle which is not in operating condition or which, for a period of ninety (90) days or longer, has been partially or totally disassembled by the removal of tires and wheels, the engine, or other essential parts required for operation of the vehicle.  An inoperative vehicle shall also be considered a vehicle with an observable condition which indicates a state such that it is economically impractical to make such vehicle operative within a reasonable period of time, or which constitutes a health, fire or safety hazard.

“Occupant” means any person who has possessory rights or exercises the right to possession of any dwelling unit or rooming unit and who has the right to control or exercises control over the physical conditions of such dwelling unit or rooming unit.

“Owner” means any person who, alone or jointly, or severally with others:

     (1)  Shall hold legal title to the property provided that each title may be less than a fee simple; or

     (2)  Shall have charge, care, or control of property, dwelling or dwelling unit, as owner, lessee, agent executor, administrator, trustee, or guardian.

“Property”  means any land, whether unimproved or improved with buildings or other structures and whether unoccupied or occupied by any person.

“Rodent proofing” means a form of construction which will prevent the ingress or egress of rodents to or from a given building and their access to food, water, or harborage.  It consists of the closing and keeping closed every opening in foundations, basements, cellars, exterior and interior walls, ground or first floors, attics, roofs, sidewalk gratings, sidewalk openings, and other places that may be reached and entered by rodents by climbing, burrowing or other methods, and by the use of materials impervious to rodent gnawing and other methods approved by the County Manager.

“Vacant property” means property, whether or not improved, which is not occupied by any person.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82; Ord. No. 85-43, 2-1-86; Ord. No 96-7, 5-11-96)

§10-13. Duty of Property Owner to Cut Grass, Weeds, Maintain Lawns, Etc.

  1. It shall be the duty of each owner of vacant property to cut grass, weeds, and other foreign growth (which may include trees or parts thereof) on such property when such growth on such property creates a health or safety hazard.
  2. It shall be the duty of each owner of occupied residential real property to cut the grass or lawn area of less than one-half (1/2) acre on such property within ten (10) days after notice from the County Manager or designee when the growth on such grass or lawn area exceeds twelve (12) inches in height.  The County may, if the grass or lawn is not cut, after thirty (30) days’ notice, have such grass or lawn area cut by the County’s agents or employees and the cost thereof shall be charged to and paid by the owner of such property and may be collected by the County as taxes and levies are collected.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82; Ord. No. 93-18, 9-22-93; Ord. No. 96-7, 5-11-96)

§10-14. Duty of Either the Property Owner, Occupant or Both to Properly Maintain Property

It shall be the joint and several duty of the property owner and the occupant of each parcel of property in the County to keep such property free from all trash, garbage, refuse, litter, debris, or other substances which might endanger the health or safety of other residents of the County. (2-21-81; 4-24-82)

§10-15. Duty of Each Property Owner or Occupant of Property to Cut Back Obstructing Vegetation

It shall be the joint and several duty of each owner or occupant of property to cut back or remove trees or parts thereof, hedges, shrubs, vines and other vegetation which encroaches upon any sidewalk, alley, roadway, street or highway and which impairs or obstructs any pedestrian or vehicular traffic.  Such growth higher than ten (10) feet above the surface of a walk or roadway need not be removed unless such growth creates a health or safety hazard.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82; Ord. No. 96-7, 5-11-96)

§10-16. Duty of Either Property Owner, Occupant or Both to Keep the Property Free from Rat Harborage

It shall be the joint and several duty of the property owner and occupant of each parcel of property in the County to keep such property free from any condition that harbors or has the tendency to harbor rats.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82)

§10-17. Notice of Violation

Whenever the County Manager determines that a property owner or occupant has violated this article, the Manager shall cause a notice of violation to be served on said owner or occupant.  This notice is not a prerequisite for criminal prosecution under §10-21. (2-21-81; 4-24-82; Ord. No. 85-43, 2-1-86)

§10-18. Failure to Perform Duties Relating to Property upon Violation Notice from the County Manager

If a property owner or occupant fails to comply with the requirements of a notice issued under the provisions of §§ 10-13 and 10-14, the County Manager or designee shall be empowered to enter upon the property to correct the violation.  The cost or expense thereto shall be charged to the owner of the property and shall be collected by the County in the same manner as taxes and levies are collected.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82)

§10-19. Right to Property Owner or Occupant to Appeal Violation Notice

Upon service of a violation notice as provided in §10-17 above, any property owner or occupant shall have the right to appeal such violation notice or requirements specified therein and shall be granted a hearing before the County Manager or designee, provided that a written appeal and request for hearing is received by the County Manager within five (5) working days after service of the notice.  Upon receipt of such an appeal or request, the County Manager shall advise the appellant of the time and place for the hearing, shall convene the hearing, shall consider the evidence and shall render a decision in writing and provide a copy to the appellant within five (5) working days following the hearing.  (2-21-81; 4-24-82)

§10-20. Reserved

Editor’s note — Former §10-20 was repealed by Ord. No. 90-26, adopted Aug. 11, 1990.  The repealed provisions pertained to the authority of the County to require removal, repair, etc., of dangerous structures and derived from legislation of Feb. 21, 1981 and April 24, 1982.

§10-21. Penalties for Failure to Comply with this Article

Except as provided for below, violations of §10-14 may be pursued as civil penalties.  In case of the violation of any provisions of this chapter, the owner, lessee, tenant or agent shall be subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first violation.  This penalty shall be imposed after a warning has been issued that gives the owner, lessee, tenant or agent a specified time within which to comply with the chapter.  Any person who continues to violate such provision of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) for each subsequent violation.  No person shall be cited for a violation more than once in any ten (10) day period, and no person shall be fined more than a total of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) for all violations arising out of the same set of facts.

Civil penalties shall be imposed by the issuance of a civil summons by the Zoning Administrator or Deputy.  Any person served with a summons shall have thirty (30) days in which either to pay a fine to the Treasurer of Arlington County, Virginia, or to appeal the violation to the General District Court. (2-21-81; 4-24-82; No. 98-12, 4-18-98)

§10-22. Duty of Property Owner to Remove Stored, Wrecked, Abandoned or Inoperative Vehicles.

  1. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to keep, except within a fully enclosed building, on any property zoned for residential or commercial purposes, any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, as such is defined in §46.2-100 of the Virginia Code, whose condition makes them inoperative; provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to a licensed business which on June 26, 1970, was regularly engaged in business as an automobile dealer, salvage dealer or scrap processor.
  2. It is further provided:
    1. That the owners of property zoned for residential or commercial purposes shall remove there from any such inoperative motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers that are not kept within a fully enclosed building;
    2. That the County Manager or his designee shall remove any such inoperative motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers, after the owner of the premises has been given notice, by service by the Sheriff or by certified mail, return receipt requested, which states that a violation exists, that it must be corrected within ten (10) days, and that a request for a hearing before the County Manager must be made in writing before the end of the ten (10) day period;
    3. That in the event the County Manager or his designee removes any such motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers, the County may dispose of such motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers after twenty-one (21) days’ additional notice to the owner of the vehicle;
    4. That the cost of any such removal and disposal shall be chargeable to the owner of the vehicle or premises and may be collected as taxes and levies are collected; and
    5. That every cost authorized by this section with which the owner of the premises shall have been assessed shall constitute a lien against the property from which the vehicle was removed, the lien to continue until actual payment of such costs shall have been made to the County. (2-21-81; 4-24-82; Ord. No. 85-43, 2-1-86; Ord. No. 91-18, 5-14-91)