Code of the District of Columbia

§ 6–804. Dangerous nuisances; notice to abate; failure to abate; life-or-health threatening condition on vacant lot.

(a) The existence on any lot or parcel of land, in the District of Columbia, of any uncovered well, cistern, dangerous hole, excavation, any dead, dangerous or diseased tree, or part thereof, or of any abandoned vehicles of any description or parts thereof, miscellaneous materials or debris of any kind, including substances that have accumulated as the result of repairs to yards or any building operations, insofar as they affect the public health, comfort, safety, and welfare is hereby declared a nuisance dangerous to life and limb, and any person, corporation, partnership, syndicate, or company owning a lot or parcel of land in said District on which such a nuisance exists who shall neglect or refuse to abate the same to the satisfaction of the Mayor of the District of Columbia, after 5 days notice from him to do so, shall, on conviction in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia be punished by a fine of not exceeding $50 for each and every day said person, corporation, partnership, or syndicate, fails to comply with such notice. In case the owner of, or agent or other party interested in, any lot or parcel of land in the District of Columbia on which there exists an open well, cistern, dangerous hole, or excavation, or any dead, dangerous, or diseased tree or part thereof, or any abandoned or unused vehicles or parts thereof, or miscellaneous accumulation of material or debris which affects public safety, health, comfort, and welfare, shall fail, after notice aforesaid, to abate said nuisance within 1 week after the expiration of such notice, the said Mayor may cause the lot or parcel of land on which the nuisance exists to be secured by fences or otherwise enclosed, and the removal of any abandoned vehicles, or parts thereof, any miscellaneous accumulation of material or debris or any dead or dangerous tree or part thereof, or the removal or spraying of any diseased tree adversely affecting the public safety, health, comfort, and welfare, and double the cost and expense thereof shall be assessed by said Mayor as a tax against the property on which such nuisance exists, and the tax so assessed shall be collected in the manner provided in § 6-806. Within the meaning of this section, a dead tree shall be any tree with respect to which the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his designated agent have determined that no part thereof is living; a dangerous tree is any tree or part thereof, living or dead, which the said Mayor or his designated agent shall find is in such condition and is so located as to constitute a danger to persons or property on public space in the vicinity of such tree; and a diseased tree shall be any tree on private property in such a condition of infection from a major pathogenic disease as to constitute, in the opinion of the said Mayor or his designated agent, a threat to the health of any other tree.

(b) The authority conferred on the Mayor under subsection (a) of this section with respect to the removal of dangerous and diseased trees constituting a nuisance shall be exercised by the Mayor only after every reasonable effort has been made to abate such nuisance other than by the removal of any such tree, or part thereof.

(c) Where the Mayor determines that there exists a life-or-health threatening condition on a vacant lot, the notice required by this chapter shall be deemed to have been served if the owner or authorized agent is notified by personal service or by registered mail to the last known address and by conspicuous posting on the property. If the owner or owner’s address is unknown, notice shall be provided by conspicuous posting on the property. A life-or-health threatening condition means a condition which imminently endangers the health or safety of persons in the area of the vacant lot.


(Mar. 1, 1899, 30 Stat. 923, ch. 323, § 4; Apr. 5, 1935, 49 Stat. 107, ch. 41; Apr. 1, 1942, 56 Stat. 190, ch. 207, § 1; July 8, 1963, 77 Stat. 77, Pub. L. 88-60, § 1; Aug. 22, 1964, 78 Stat. 599, Pub. L. 88-486, § 4; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Apr. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 1-128, § 3, 23 DCR 9692; Mar. 10, 1983, D.C. Law 4-205, § 3, 30 DCR 188.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-604.

1973 Ed., § 5-504.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 6-805, § 6-806, § 10-731, and § 42-3131.01.

Cross References

Motor vehicles, Abandoned and Junk Vehicle Division, see § 50-2402.

Ownership by nonresidents, vacant property, maintenance by resident agent, see § 42-903.

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.