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

Property Maintenance

Exterior Property Maintenance Flyer
Exterior Property Maintenance Flyer

Why does the County regulate property maintenance?

Property maintenance standards exist to promote clean, safe, and attractive neighborhoods. The Department of Code Compliance relies on the Virginia Property Maintenance Code (VPMC) - as the minimum standard regarding safety and general maintenance.

The VPMC applies to almost all existing buildings and structures. Buildings under construction are generally regulated by the Virginia Construction Code, which requires permitting and inspections to ensure safety and compliance with codes for new construction.


What is Property Maintenance?

Property maintenance

Maintenance is general upkeep of the structure. This means making sure that both interior and exterior parts of the building are cared for - including all equipment, fixtures, and systems so that the structure is kept safe for occupants. Doors, windows, siding, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems, are all features of the property that need to be maintained.

Property maintenance also means keeping the interior of the property safe from overcrowding and free from too many belongings (see: Hoarding) that can cause safety issues – like not being able to exit the building quickly in case of an emergency.

Life Safety Issues

DCC’s primary goal in enforcing property maintenance standards is to protect the safety of those living, visiting, and doing business throughout the County. Our investigators will prioritize issues of life safety when conducting inspections and pursuing steps toward compliance. 

To be considered habitable - or able to be lived in safely – a dwelling must have electricity, water, plumbing and working fixtures for a kitchen and bathroom.  A Notice of Unsafe Structure may also be issued if a structure is vacant and unlocked, partially collapsed, or in danger of collapse. If deemed unsafe by DCC, a Notice of Unsafe Structure directs the property owner to quickly address the defects or demolish the structure.

Vacancy by itself is not a violation. However, doors and windows need to be locked or boarded to prevent unauthorized entry into vacant structures. Entering unsecured structures can be extremely dangerous, particularly for children or others who aren’t aware of the hazards.

Egress, or a way to exit, must be provided throughout a dwelling so that a safe, continuous, and unobstructed path of travel is provided from any point in the structure to the exterior. Additional specifications regarding the County’s egress rules can be found here, Egress flyer.

Excessive combustible material can also accumulate in a dwelling, which increases the risk of fires.

It is essential that all load-bearing structural members be maintained in sound condition, free of deterioration, and capable of supporting intended loads.  

This maintenance requirement also extends to systems that protect the home, such as roofing, gutters, flashing, windows, doors, exterior covering etc. When properties are left exposed to weather, water and temperature extremes can cause critical instability - leaving floors, ceilings, and walls subject to potential failure. 

Depending upon the code or ordinance in effect at the time of construction, a private swimming pool may have to be surrounded by a fence or barrier at least 48 inches in height above the finished ground level (measured on the side of the barrier away from the pool). Other conditions may apply, see here for more information on swimming pools.


The interior of a structure is subject to various rules which prevent unsafe living conditions. The VPMC states that the “interior of a structure and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound, and in sanitary condition.”

During an inspection, DCC will determine whether areas are suitable for sleeping. For instance, you can never turn a closet or bathroom into a bedroom. Bedrooms need to have an operable window at a safe height for exit and must be of a certain size based on the number of occupants. 

Must be operable and may be required in various locations, like in or near bedrooms, throughout the building depending on the age and type of structure. See more information in our Smoke Alarm Flyer.

If you or someone you know needs a smoke alarm, you can contact Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. See more information on the County’s Website.

In some situations, rodent and insect infestation, and rodent harborage may be a violation of the VPMC. See more information on the County’s website.

Proper maintenance of interior surfaces is vital to the safety of a building and its occupants. Under Chapter 3 of the VPMC, interior surfaces, including, but not limited to windows and doors, shall be maintained in good repair, clean and sanitary condition. Peeling, chipping, flaking or abraded paint must be repaired, removed or covered. Additionally, cracked or loose plaster, decayed wood and other defective surface conditions must be corrected.


In apartments or leased residential condominiums, heat must be provided and kept to a minimum temperature of 68°F in all habitable rooms from Oct.15th to May 1st.

In office buildings, heat must be provided at a minimum of 65°F when the spaces are occupied from October 1st to April 15th, except for processing, storage, and operation areas that require cooling or special temperature conditions. For more detailed information visit the Code Compliance Corner.


In apartments or leased residential condominiums, owners are required maintain a temperature of not more than 77°F (25°F) in all habitable rooms from May 15 - Oct.1.

In buildings with more than one elevator, at least one elevator must be operational when the building is occupied. Buildings with only one elevator may temporarily have that elevator out of service for testing or maintenance.

Other common interior property maintenance violations can include: no gas, water, or electric utilities; appliances (e.g. washer, dryer, hot water heater, etc.) that aren’t working; plumbing problems such as leaking water, interior or exterior sewage backup; or structural damage, like failing floors or ceilings.

DCC receives many reports about the presence of mold. However, mold by itself is not considered a property maintenance violation. If the mold is being caused by leaks or malfunctioning building systems (e.g. roof leaking or air condenser causing moisture within a unit), then those may be violations that DCC can assist with. However, fixing the source of the problem would be considered compliance, even if the mold itself was not removed during repair. We encourage residents with concerns about mold to visit the Environmental Protection Agency website for more information.


The VPMC requires that “The exterior of a structure shall be maintained in good repair and structurally sound." This means that all exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks, and fences, shall be maintained in good condition. Additionally, swimming pools shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair.

VPMC covers the exterior of the structure(s) on a property, but other rules apply to maintaining cleanliness and overall upkeep of yards, etc. This includes DCC’s enforcement of tall grass and outdoor storage.

The sewer lateral (line leaving the property) carries waste to the main sanitary sewer and regular maintenance is vital.  The maintenance and repair of lateral is the responsibility of the property owner, and the County is responsible for maintaining the public sewer in the street. Broken or unmaintained laterals may be found in violation of the VPMC. See more information in the DCC Lateral flyer.

Other exterior systems, like drainage pipes and plumbing traps connected to structures on the property may be subject to maintenance standards. This includes grease traps and other devices intended to prevent the disposal of fats, oils, and greases (FOG) into the public sewer and storm drains.  

How are property maintenance rules enforced?

DCC accepts complaints about property maintenance throughout the County. Code Compliance Investigators will visit the property, observe the property, and document their findings. Properties in violation will be issued a Notice of Violation (NOV). The notice will allow a specified period to correct the violations. Failure to comply with a notice of violation may result in further legal action.

Anything else to know? 


Blight Abatement:

Dilapidated and deteriorated conditions that endanger the public health, safety, or welfare may be considered “blight.” Blighted properties are specifically designated by County action, and if owners do not comply with County orders, DCC may take actions to demolish or otherwise remove the unsafe conditions. More information about Blight Abatement can be found on our website.

Common Spaces in Commercial, Condos, and Apartments:

Common elements of a building, such as roofs, plumbing, stairwells, hallways outside the unit, maintenance rooms, and exterior surfaces may be the responsibility of the condominium or property management. Fixtures or plumbing inside a unit may be the responsibility of the owner or tenant.

If you live or work in a shared-ownership or apartment building, we encourage you to contact your property manager or landlord for assistance before contacting DCC.

Additional regulations may be handled through the Statewide Fire Prevention Code. Contact the Office of the Fire Marshall.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant