Unsafe Living Conditions


Facts about Unsafe Living Conditions

Knowing the conditions that experts deem as unsafe in a residence can save lives and protects neighborhoods.

  • Reporting unsafe living conditions to Property Code Enforcement when you see it can only help to improve or abate the situation. Everyone wins!

Unsafe living conditions that need to be reported to the property code enforcement team includes homes with maintenance issues that cause hazards such as:

  • Gas leaks
  • Utilities or appliances that are not working properly
  • No hot water or no water at all
  • Damage to foundations, decks, stairways, joists, or other structural elements
  • Excessive storage inside and outside of the dwelling or on the property

Extremely unsafe living conditions in homes create serious hazards for the resident, others who enter the home, those who live in proximity of this situation, and for first responders.

  • Firefighters or rescue workers lose precious time to save lives when excessive storage conditions restrict them. First responders are put into harms way too!

The bottom line is that it is unsafe for a resident, visitors and emergency personnel when a residence:

    • Have obstructed pathways not allowing free access throughout the home,
    • Have stored materials to a point that floor joists are stressed,
    • Have windows or exit doors that are blocked by stored items.

Excessive Collection of Items:

When parts of a home (such as the kitchens or bathrooms) are rendered unusable by the excessive collection and retention of materials, these conditions severely increase the potential for a fire and are unsanitary. These situations are unsafe and are unfit to occupy.

These unsanitary conditions support an environment for vermin, rodents and insect infestations to the occupants and neighbors.

Heavy items, such as an accumulation of newspapers, boxes, magazines, can lead to overstressing of structural members. This condition can cause floor systems to sag, crack and even collapse.

While Neighborhood Services staff works to resolve excessive collection of materials as required by the Virginia Property Maintenance Code, we team with other agencies and organizations as appropriate to help find solutions that might benefit the occupant(s).

What is the Role of Neighborhood Services in Unsafe Living Condition Cases

Through the identification of unsafe living conditions, where residents put themselves and others at risk, Neighborhood Services staff collaborates with other County agencies to reduce risk for the occupants and others. Often this requires enforcement actions in accordance with the County adopted Property Maintenance Code.

Neighborhood Services’ enforcement actions for blighted properties, unsafe structures and structures unfit for human occupancy deals only with problems with the structure itself. For occupants who become displaced while the home is rendered safe, Neighborhood Services collaborates with other agencies who may be able to provide additional assistance and support.

For more information on what Neighborhood Services can do if you suspect an unsafe living situation in your neighborhood, call us at 703-792-7018 or email us at [email protected].