As a home or property owner, you may at some point receive a notice of violation or order of correction. If code enforcement inspectors validate the existence of a substandard condition at private property, they will issue a violation notice or order of correction to the responsible parties to advise of the violation and establish an expectation for compliance.
Violation notices or orders of correction are official documents that serve to provide responsible parties with details about the substandard condition as well as the location and the date where the violation was determined. They also provide reference information about the specific code and the expectations for compliance. The compliance date listed on the violation notice or order of correction is the date by when the repairs should be completed.
It’s important for a re-inspection of corrections to take place, either by the compliance deadline or whenever the corrections are completed, in cases when extensions have been granted. The re-inspection may be scheduled with the inspector referenced on the violation notice or order of correction.
Learn more about how code enforcement works in Arlington County:
Carefully Read the Violation Notice or Order of Correction
Inspectors draft correction orders to help identify and explain the property’s substandard condition to both owners and those contracted to complete the corrections. Some terms used in the correction order may be technical terms associated with building systems; definitions are typically available through online and text construction dictionaries.
Verify the Referenced Address
Review the address listed on the correction order to verify that it’s a property that you own or control. If the information is incorrect, contact the inspector immediately at the number listed on the correction order.
Review the Compliance Deadline
Every corrective order has a compliance deadline, and it is typically noted on the front page near the top of the notice. Take the deadline seriously and get started on resolving the issues right away.
The corrective order issued identifies conditions that adversely affect the safe use or occupancy of the premises. Compliance deadlines on notices highlighted as an “emergency,”“unsafe” or “unfit” may not be subject to extended compliance timelines.
The Voluntary Compliance Period
Corrective orders serve multiple purposes. The period before the compliance deadline is a voluntary compliance period, essentially serving as a warning notice. Most owners are able to complete the repairs and resolve violations during the voluntary compliance period. There are no progressive enforcement actions applied during the voluntary compliance period.
Focus on Compliance
No one wants to receive an unsolicited notice that identifies a sub-standard condition at a property within their control. Focus on the identifying the conditions reported, timelines for compliance and tools needed to correcting the conditions on the order.
If especially troubled by receiving the order, give it to a friend, family member or adviser for an independent review. Review the law upon which the order is issued to identify the standard expectation for a situation like yours. Contact the issuing inspector with questions that may provide clarity of the intent and expectation for compliance. Short corrective orders generally take less time to repair then lengthy orders, so use the voluntary compliance period wisely.
Efficiently Use Your Time and Financial Resources
Code violations identify a missed minimum standard or expectation. Violators often find that the result is the same in a court enforcement process as the order detailed and inspector initially explained.
Some corrections are easy to correct and require minimal effort. Get right to work and knock out the corrections immediately. If you find that you can’t complete the work alone, get assistance and advice with free compliance coaching. As soon as you’ve checked the work for completeness, don’t forget to contact the inspector for a re-inspection to close the case.
Adjusted Timelines for Compliance
There are times when the work just cannot be completed within the voluntary compliance time. Ordered parts or hired services sometimes run late and impact the ability to complete the corrections and secure a re-inspection by the deadline.
The inspector makes an initial determination regarding the standard timeline for compliance of your corrective order. However, there may be opportunities to adjust the timeline by making asking for inspection for a extension of the compliance deadline. You’ll need to substantiate your need for an extended compliance timeline and provide a reasonable date for completion. The owner or legally authorized agent of the owner listed on the correction order must submit the request for extensions of compliance in writing to the inspector. Extensions of compliance can only be processed during the voluntary compliance period.
Past Compliance Deadline
If you haven’t complete the corrections prior to the compliance deadline, contact your assigned inspector and advise of the status of repairs and any immediate intentions. Compliance is the goal.
If You Need Assistance Completing Corrections
Sometimes additional resources are needed to complete the corrections. If you determine that you cannot contribute to the correction processes because of your skills or abilities, you may need the assistance of a contractor to help. Because code violations are typically base-level corrections, most licensed professionals can complete the work efficiently.
Although staff is unable to recommend specific contractors, we can help guide you the basics of hiring a contractor.
To prepare for working with contractors, staff suggests that you provide photocopies of the correction order and solicit three (3) independent estimates from qualified contractors in the disciple of work required. Check references and carefully review contracts if you are unable to perform the work yourself.