Code of the District of Columbia

§ 6–641.09. Building permits; certificates of occupancy.

(a) It shall be unlawful to erect, construct, reconstruct, convert, or alter any building or structure or part thereof within the District of Columbia without obtaining a building permit from the Inspector of Buildings, and said Inspector shall not issue any permit for the erection, construction, reconstruction, conversion, or alteration of any building or structure, or any part thereof, unless the plans of and for the proposed erection, construction, reconstruction, conversion, or alteration fully conform to the provisions of this subchapter and of the regulations adopted under said sections. In the event that said regulations provide for the issuance of certificates of occupancy or other form of permit to use, it shall be unlawful to use any building, structure, or land until such certificate or permit be first obtained. It shall be unlawful to erect, construct, reconstruct, alter, convert, or maintain or to use any building, structure, or part thereof or any land within the District of Columbia in violation of the provisions of said sections or of any of the provisions of the regulations adopted under said sections. The owner or person in charge of or maintaining any such building or land or any other person who erects, constructs, reconstructs, alters, converts, maintains, or uses any building or structure or part thereof or land in violation of said sections or of any regulation adopted under said sections, shall upon conviction for such violation on information filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the Corporation Counsel or any of his assistants in the name of said District and which Court is hereby authorized to hear and determine such cases be punished by a fine of not more than $100 per day for each and every day such violation shall continue. The Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia or any neighboring property owner or occupant who would be specially damaged by any such violation may, in addition to all other remedies provided by law, institute injunction, mandamus, or other appropriate action or proceeding to prevent such unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, conversion, maintenance, or use, or to correct or abate such violation or to prevent the occupancy of such building, structure, or land. Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this subchapter, or any rules or regulations issued under the authority of these sections, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of any infraction of this chapter shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(b) A building permit shall not be issued to or on behalf of the District government unless proper notice has been given under § 1-309.10. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs shall issue a cease and desist order to enjoin any construction project that is issued in noncompliance with this section.


(June 20, 1938, 52 Stat. 800, ch. 534, § 10; Apr. 1, 1942, 56 Stat. 190, ch. 207, § 1; July 8, 1963, 77 Stat. 77, Pub. L. 88-60, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Oct. 5, 1985, D.C. Law 6-42, § 450, 32 DCR 4450; Apr. 13, 2005, D.C. Law 15-349, § 3, 52 DCR 1997.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-426.

1973 Ed., § 5-422.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 47-1401.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-349 designated the existing text as subsec. (a); and added subsec. (b).

Cross References

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, duties and responsibilities, see § 1-309.10.

Assistant Inspector of Buildings, powers, see § 2-138.

Residential real property transfer excise tax, “dealer” defined, see § 47-1401.

Editor's Notes

Office of Inspector of Buildings abolished: Section 3 of the Act of December 20, 1944, 58 Stat. 822, ch. 611, transferred all the duties, powers, rights, and authority of the Inspector of Buildings of the District of Columbia to the Director of Inspection of the District of Columbia. The Department of Inspections was abolished and the functions thereof transferred to the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia by Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952. Reorganization Order No. 55 of the Board of Commissioners, dated June 30, 1953, and amended August 13, 1953, and December 17, 1953, established, under the direction and control of a Commissioner, a Department of Licenses and Inspections headed by a Director. The Order set out the purpose, organization, and functions of the new Department. The Order provided that all of the functions and positions of the following named organizations were transferred to the new Department of Licenses and Inspections: The Department of Inspections including the Engineering Section, the Building Inspection Section, the Electrical Section, the Elevator Inspection Section, the Fire Safety Inspection Section, the Plumbing Inspection Section, the Smoke and Boiler Inspection Section, and the Administrative Section, and similarly the Department of Weights, Measures and Markets, the License Bureau, the License Board, the License Committee, the Board of Special Appeals, the Board for the Condemnation of Dangerous and Unsafe Buildings, and the Central Permit Bureau. The Order provided that in accordance with the provisions of Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952, the named organizations were abolished. The executive functions of the Board of Commissioners were transferred to the Commissioner of the District of Columbia by § 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967. Functions vested in the Department of Licenses and Inspection by Reorganization Order No. 55 were transferred to the Director of the Department of Economic Development by Commissioner’s Order No. 69-96, dated March 7, 1969. The Department of Economic Development was replaced by Mayor’s Order No. 78-42, dated February 17, 1978, which Order established the Department of Licenses, Investigation and Inspections. The Department of Licenses, Investigation and Inspections was transferred to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1983.