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Friday, May 4, 2012

Property maintenance is huge issue in Annandale

4021 Oxford St., Annandale, was cited for multiple occupancy and multiple dwelling violations in fall 2011. The problems have been resolved.
Residents of Annandale and the Mason District area are becoming increasingly unhappy about the lack of property maintenance—and are growing frustrated at county officials’ failure to act quickly enough.

Among the problems cited by residents of Parklawn, Lincolnia, and other neighborhoods: unfinished mcmansions and uncompleted home remodeling projects that have languished for years, illegal multiple occupancy and multiple dwelling units, derelict cars and illegal car sales on residential properties, excess litter, and what appears to be illegal car sales conducted off a truck on the Kmart parking lot.

Several residents say they have contacted Fairfax County officials but have not received a response.
It took many months for the county to investigate the illegal “extreme yard sales” on Braddock Road, for example, and it’s uncertain whether this issue has been resolved.

People who want to stay in their homes are feeling a bit demoralized by all this, while it seems an increasing number of long-time homeowners are putting up for-sale signs. Meanwhile those who are staying are worried about property values declining.

The Mason District currently has more multiple occupancy complaint cases than any other district, but that’s not always the case, says Jeff Blackford, Fairfax County’s director of code compliance. “Multiple dwellings are prevalent all over the county,” he says.

“Clearly, there’s been a dramatic increase since 2007,” he says, but “it’s hard to say what the trend is.” Increased media attention has shined a spotlight on the problem, so more people know what to look for and are more likely to report their neighbors, he says.

As of April 30, there were 55 open multiple occupancy cases in Mason, reports the Office of Code Compliance. Notices of violations have been sent to property owners in 21 of those cases. Twelve cases are in litigation, and 22 are in the process of being investigated. The code prohibits more than four unrelated people living in one unit.

There were 17 multiple dwelling cases in Mason, as of April 30, which refer to houses illegally divided into separate living spaces, such as houses with two kitchens. Notices of violation have been sent for nine of those cases. Four cases are in litigation, and four are being investigated.

If code compliance investigators find a property in violation, the owner is given time to correct the problem. If it is not fixed after the property is re-inspected, it is referred to the county attorney’s office.

If there’s a safety issue at stake, the code compliance staff responds immediately, Blackford says. A complaint about something like a “shed too close to the property line” would be given a lower priority. “A lot of times the landlord doesn’t even know what’s going on in a house,” he says. “Often, it’s an honest mistake. It’s only when they won’t work with us that we have to bring it to court.”


  1. I have the impression -- rightly or wrongly -- that the inspectors seem to be more sympathetic to the alleged violators than to the community/taxpayers at large.

  2. Until someone speaks out and addresses the illegal immigration issue, things are just going to continually decline. Penny Gross - where are you? Are you even in the office? Help our district!!!!! Word has spread about the open door policy for illegals to come to Faifax County - particularly Mason Distict.

  3. I see one every day - Intersection of Aston and Trammel Rd. Scrape the moss off of your roof, it's two inches thick!

  4. Thanks, Ellie, for summarizing what many of us have been trying to deal with for years. Maybe making more neighbors aware that other neighbors are concerned will cause still more to make their feelings known to the proper County staff, starting with our Supervisor's office. This is our community...this is our home.

  5. The Gross Penny does not give a damn since she lives on the South side of Little River Turnpike and doesn't see any of this(even during the parade). Not even the two "blighted" houses just before entering the "Village" of Annandale just across from the Methodist Church. They have yard sales all summer long on both Saturday and Sunday every week. Her ignorance and inaction has resulted in an overall decline of one of the best locations inside the beltway. A location far better than her pet projects at Baileys Xroads. As a lifelong Democrat I am sad to say her Republican predecessors did much more for us and our community and things have been downhill since her "election".

  6. I hope the people complaining about multiple dwelling units are not the same folks who complain about the lack of affordable housing.

    And if y'all have a problem with illegal immigrants, maybe everyone should stop hiring contractors who use them.

    Also saying one is a life long anything carries very little weight when one is anonymous :)