It is illegal to violate the DC preservation law, just as it is illegal to violate building codes or traffic laws. Historic Preservation Office (HPO) inspectors are authorized to stop illegal construction and may also issue citations and fines for violations of the DC building and property maintenance codes.
Types of Violations
Violations of the preservation law and DC building code include:
- Working without a required construction permit
- Exceeding the scope of a permit
- Failure to comply with the conditions of a permit
- Failure to maintain historic property in good repair
- Demolition by neglect.
When a violation occurs, HPO inspectors may take enforcement action to bring the work into compliance. This may include issuing any or all of the following:
- Stop Work Order – requires construction to cease immediately
- Notice of Violation – requires corrective action for compliance
- Correction Order – specifies required corrective work
- Notice of Infraction – imposes a fine for violation of the law.
Fines and Penalties
Violators of the preservation law and building code are subject to a $4,068 civil infraction fine under DC Municipal Regulations (16 DCMR 3306.1) for failure to obtain or stay within the scope and conditions of a building permit. Fines may double for a second infraction.
If you get a Stop Work Order for illegal construction, you may be liable for a fine of 50 percent of the cost of the permit you should have obtained. DCRA will not release the Stop Work Order until you pay the permit fee and any fine assessed.