Code of the District of Columbia

§ 6–801. Unsafe structure or excavation – public safety.

(a) If any building or part of a building, staging, or other structure, or anything attached to or connected to any building or other structure ("structure") or an excavation is reported to the District government as unsafe, from any cause, the Mayor shall examine the structure or excavation.

(b)(1) If the Mayor determines that the condition of the structure or excavation creates an imminent threat to public safety requiring that emergency measures be undertaken immediately, notice to the owner, agent, or other person having an interest in the structure or excavation ("responsible party") shall not be required.

(2) Where public safety requires immediate emergency action, subject to subsection (c) of this section, the Mayor may enter upon the premises without notice or delay with the necessary number of workmen and assistants to shore-up, take down, or remove, if necessary, or otherwise secure the structure or excavation, including any equipment on the site, and if a necessary safeguard, install a fence or boarding to protect the public.

(c) If the unsafe structure is a historic landmark or is located in a historic district, as defined in § 6-1102(5), the Mayor shall not order or cause the structure, or any portion of the structure, to be taken down or removed unless the Mayor, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, as defined in § 6-1102(12), determines that:

(1) There is an extreme and immediate threat to public safety resulting from unsafe structural conditions; and

(2) The unsafe condition cannot be abated by shoring, stabilizing, or securing the structure.

(d)(1) If the Mayor determines the structure or excavation to be unsafe but not an imminent threat to public safety and does not require immediate emergency action, the Mayor shall immediately notify a responsible party and require the responsible party to make the structure or excavation, or both, whichever is applicable, safe by having it shored up, taken down, or removed, if necessary, or otherwise made safe and secure within the time period specified in the notice.

(2) If the responsible party, having been notified, refuses or neglects to comply with the requirements of the notice within the time period specified, subject to subsection (c) of this section, the Mayor may institute any authorized remedy or corrective action, at the owner’s expense, or impose a penalty or initiate a proceeding; provided, that the Mayor shall not have a structure that is a historic landmark or located in a historic district taken down or removed unless the Mayor determines, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, that the structure has become an extreme and immediate threat to the public safety as a result of the responsible party’s failure to abate the unsafe structural condition and that the unsafe condition cannot be abated by shoring, stabilizing, or securing the structure.

(3) This subsection shall not apply to a deteriorated structure under subchapter II of Chapter 31C of Title 42.


(Mar. 1, 1899, 30 Stat. 923, ch. 323, § 1; Apr. 5, 1935, 49 Stat. 105, ch. 41; Aug. 22, 1964, 78 Stat. 599, Pub. L. 88-486, §§ 1, 2; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-281, § 102(a), 48 DCR 1888; May 18, 2016, D.C. Law 21-118, § 3(a), 63 DCR 4645.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-601.

1973 Ed., § 5-501.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 6-805, § 6-806, and § 47-1205.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-281 added subsecs. (c-2) and (c-3).

Cross References

Building regulations, authority of Council and Mayor to promulgate and enforce, see § 1-303.03 and § 1-303.04.

Demolition of historic buildings, see § 6-1111.

Removal of nuisances, see § 47-1205.

Zoning Commission, authority to regulate, see § 6-641.01.

Editor's Notes

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control in Square 6126: Title II, §§ 201-205, of D.C. Law 8-229 gave the Mayor powers to make an immediate determination of nature and cost of remedial actions for sediment control in Square 6126, power to undertake such actions, power to prohibit activities in Square 6126, power to enter private property to carry out the actions, and power to levy an assessment on the property in Square 6126; however, expenditure of funds for remedial actions or permanent improvements other than in Square 6126 is not authorized, nor is any claim or right of relief for such actions created in any person by title II.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.