Code of the District of Columbia

§ 6–901. Inspection of buildings authorized.

(a) The Mayor may examine the habitability and sanitary condition of all buildings in the District of Columbia, to condemn those buildings which are in such insanitary condition as to endanger the health or lives of the occupants thereof or persons living in the vicinity, and to cause all buildings to be habitable and sanitary or to be demolished and removed. The Mayor may authorize and direct the performance of the duties imposed on him by this chapter by such officers, agents, employees, contractors, employees of contractors, and other persons as may be designated, detailed, employed, or appointed by the said Mayor to carry out the purposes of this chapter. The Mayor or his designated agent or agents are authorized to investigate, through personal inquiry and inspection, into the habitability and sanitary condition of a building or part of a building in said District, except such as are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. The Mayor, and all persons acting under his authority and the authority contained in this chapter, may, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., peaceably enter into and upon any and all lands and buildings in said District for the purpose of inspecting the same. If the unsafe building or structure is an historic landmark or is located in an historic district, as defined in § 6-1102(5), the Mayor shall not order or cause the building or structure, or portion thereof, to be removed or taken down, unless the Mayor determines, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, as defined in § 6-1102(12), 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 building or structure.

(b) As used in this section, the terms “uninhabitable” or “uninhabitability” mean the condition of being in an unlivable condition due to deterioration and infestation, improper maintenance, decaying structures, insufficient light or ventilation, inadequate plumbing, defective electrical system, or general filthy conditions that may cause health and safety concerns for the public, or that is a fire hazard or nuisance.


(May 1, 1906, 34 Stat. 157, ch. 2073, § 1; Aug. 28, 1954, 68 Stat. 884, ch. 1032; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-281, § 103(a), 48 DCR 1888.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-701.

1973 Ed., § 5-616.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-281 designated subsec. (a), rewrote the first sentence of subsec. (a) which had read: “The Mayor of the District of Columbia is authorized to examine into the sanitary condition of all buildings in said District, to condemn those buildings which are in such insanitary condition as to endanger the health or lives of the occupants thereof or persons living in the vicinity, and to cause all buildings to be put into sanitary condition or to be demolished and removed as may be required by the provisions of this chapter”; in the third sentence of subsec. (a), substituted “into the habitability and sanitary condition of a building” for “into the sanitary condition of any building”; inserted the last sentence of subsec. (a); and added subsec. (b).

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.

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

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.