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Maintenance of Historic Property

DC building codes require property owners to maintain their properties in safe and sound condition. As part of its inspections and compliance program, the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) acts to prevent deteriorated and blighted conditions at historic properties from threatening their structural condition or historic character. 

Inspection of Deteriorated Property

HPO monitors deterioration of vacant and blighted historic property as part of its regular inspections program. HPO coordinates these inspections with DCRA and the Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings (BCIB). HPO also responds to public requests for inspection. 

What actions does HPO take against property decay?

HPO’s monitoring of historic property maintenance focuses on abandoned properties, long-standing or flagrant violations, and significant neglect that may progress to a risk of demolition by neglect.

HPO compliance actions depend on the circumstances of each case. As the first step, HPO issues a Notice of Violation making the property owner aware of deficient conditions. Direct consultation with the owner after this notice usually achieves voluntary correction of the situation.

If an owner does not correct deterioration after a Notice of Violation, HPO may issue a Notice of Infraction assessing a fine for the violation. The recipient may appeal the notice, but once the adjudication process is complete, the recipient is liable for any fine assessed in addition to correcting the violation. If the fine is not paid, the amount may be attached as a lien on the property, and if the violation is not corrected, HPO may take further enforcement action. 

How does HPO address demolition by neglect?

Although most cases of failure to abide by DC property maintenance standards can be resolved through progressive enforcement procedures, a few cases require stronger action in coordination with other DCRA and BCIB authority. As a last resort, HPO may also seek legal action through the Office of the Attorney General.