Code Compliance

CONTACT INFORMATION: Code Compliance is open 8AM - 4PM Mon-Thurs and 9:15AM - 4PM Fridays.
703-324-1300 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1016
Fairfax, VA 22035
Gabriel M. Zakkak

Outdoor Storage

outdoor storage flyer
Outdoor Storage Flyer

Why does the county restrict outdoor storage?

Outdoor storage is restricted because the collection of debris or stored materials can create breeding grounds for rodents and mosquitoes and create other public health hazards. Too much outdoor storage can also impact the overall appearance of the neighborhood.

Outdoor storage is regulated under subsection 4102.1 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance. Different rules apply depending on the zoning district for the property or based on the location and types of items being stored.


Storage in Residential Districts

In residential zoning districts, outdoor storage is not allowed in the front yard. Outdoor storage in the side or rear yard cannot exceed 100 square feet in total area.

Common problems on residential properties include:

Various rules apply for Vehicle Storage, including inoperative vehicles. A vehicle under a tarp is subject to outdoor storage regulations.

Vehicles or boats that are owned by and kept for the personal use of the owner or occupants are allowed. One (1) commercial vehicle may be allowed, subject to use standards found in Zoning Ordinance Subsection 4102.1.B(2) and 4102.1.E(4).

Other information can be found under the section for “Junk Vehicles, Machinery, Etc.” below.

Items, including vehicles, covered by tarps are considered outdoor storage and are included in the 100 square feet limit.

These item types are considered outdoor storage and are included in the 100 square feet limitation. Accumulation of trash or junk along the street curb may be resolved through the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) and their Clean Street Initiative. Other debris in the roadway should be referred to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)’s Report a Road Problem service.

Litter, or small pieces of trash, bottles, cans, wrappers, etc. on private property is generally not considered outdoor storage. However, DCC can investigate litter complaints and attempt to resolve issues in partnership with other county agencies. More information about litter control can be found on the county’s website.

Using open areas of trucks or trailers for long-term storage may be considered outdoor storage and be required to comply with related regulations.

Construction Materials and Equipment are only allowed to be stored outside on a residential lot if there is an active building permit for this property.

Depending on the amount and type of storage found, a residential lot may also be cited for a violation of maintaining a Storage Yard or Junkyard.

Prohibited Items in Residential Districts

In residential areas, it is prohibited to use any space, inside or outside of a building, for the storage or keeping of construction or landscaping equipment and materials, machinery, vehicles or vehicle parts, boats, farm machinery, or other large items. This use is known as a Storage Yard.

In residential areas, it is also prohibited to use any space, inside or outside of a building, for the storage, keeping, or abandonment of junk, including scrap metals or other scrap materials, or for the dismantling, demolition, or abandonment of automobiles, other vehicles or machinery, or their parts. This use includes keeping more than five inoperative motor vehicles on any lot or place that is exposed to the weather. This use is known as a Junkyard.

Storage in Nonresidential Districts

In the I-2 District, the storage and display of goods must be inside a completely enclosed building, except for outdoor seating associated with a restaurant.

In the C-5 through C-8 Districts as well as the I-3 and I-4 Districts, up to 500 square feet of outdoor storage or display of goods may be permitted depending on the use standards for those districts and any proffered condition or similar zoning approval. Storage and loading in these districts must be screened from view from the first story of any buildings on abutting lots and from rights-of-way. Additional square footage of outdoor storage or display may be allowed with a development plan or site plan approval.

Important note for construction and landscaping contractors:  In the C-5 through C-8 Districts, as well as the I-3 and I-4 Districts, there may be no outdoor storage or parking of construction equipment; construction machinery; vehicles used for transporting construction equipment or materials; or other similar vehicles, such as solid waste collection vehicles, dump trucks, cement mixers, tractors, or trailers of tractor-trailer trucks.

In I-5 and I-6 Districts, construction vehicles, machinery, and materials can be stored outside. However, owners must obtain site plan and Nonresidential Use Permit (NonRUP) approvals for all commercial business activities. This includes, but is not limited to, use of property for a storage yard or contractor's office and shop.

The Zoning Permit Section in the Department of Planning and Development  should be consulted to review additional permissions and limitations. Wondering about how your property is zoned? How to access this information and more about your property can be found on the county’s website.


van, jet skis and other tarped items sitting in yard

How are outdoor storage rules enforced?

DCC accepts reports about outdoor storage throughout the County. Code Compliance Investigators will visit the property, measure the square footage of all observed outdoor storage, and document their findings.

Properties that exceed the allowable square footage or are storing equipment, machinery, or materials in conflict with the rules will be found in violation and the owner will be issued a Notice of Violation (NOV).

For residential properties, if an owner removes storage from the front yard and/or reduces the square footage to an approved amount, the case is closed. If the outdoor storage isn’t removed, further enforcement action may take place, up to and including legal action.  Because of different regulations in commercial and industrial districts, the removal of storage alone may not be sufficient to clear a violation. The investigator will work with the property owner to explain all related violations and options for complying with the Zoning Ordinance.

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