Minimum Housing Code
The Housing and Community Development Department enforces the County's Minimum Housing Code, located within the Orange County Code of Ordinances. The Minimum Housing Code covers all renter-occupied dwellings within the county to protect the health, safety, and welfare of county residents. The code requires property owners to maintain their residential properties to a minimum standard.
Although Orange County enforces the County Minimum Housing Code, residents of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Mebane should contact their respective town or city for enforcement, as these jurisdictions have their own minimum housing codes (contact information below).
Overview of the Orange County Minimum Housing Code
The requirements of the Orange County Minimum Housing Code include, but are not limited to:
- Property meets fire, health and safety code standards
- Safe foundation, stairs, walls, roofs and porches
- Properly functioning plumbing
- Functional toilets, bathtubs and showers
- Adequate and safe electrical wiring
- Properly installed windows and doors
- Functional heating systems
- Controlled rodent and pest population
- Occupancy which meets required standards
For detailed information, read the full Minimum Housing Code here.
When to Request Enforcement of the Minimum Housing Code
If you are a tenant and there is an issue with your rental unit or property, first contact your landlord or property manager to ask for necessary repairs or maintenance.
If the problem is not resolved in a timely manner, submit a petition for an inspection of a dwelling below. An owner cannot legally retaliate against a tenant who complains of a housing code violation. In addition, a group of concerned citizens as outlined below can submit a petition for inspection if you notice a rental dwelling or property in disrepair that may not meet minimum housing code standards.
How to Request an Inspection
You can request an inspection of a rental dwelling if you are:
- Any current tenant of the dwelling (must identify yourself as a tenant and must fill out the Minimum Housing Code Petition Form)
- A group of five (5) or more concerned residents of Orange County (must fill out the Minimum Housing Code Petition Form, including the Group Petition Form section on the last page)
- A public authority
To file a petition for an inspection of a dwelling, click here. If you need assistance with the application, please contact the Housing Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-245-2655.
What Happens Next?
- Orange County Staff will contact the petitioner within five (5) business days to schedule an inspection
- If staff find one or more code violations, they will issue a complaint to the property owner and set up a hearing to discuss the code violation that will take place no less than ten (10) days and no more than 30 days after the complaint is issued. Both the property owner and petitioner will be notified of the hearing date and time.
- If after the hearing, the violations of the housing code are upheld by Orange County staff, Orange County’s Public Officer will serve an Issue and Cause to require the owner to either repair or demolish the housing unit within a specified time period.
- If the owner does not repair or demolish the dwelling within the specified time period, the matter will be elevated to the Orange County Board of Commissioners for further enforcement actions.
Citation appeals must be submitted to the Public Officer within ten (10) days of issuing the citation. The Public Officer will respond with a decision within ten (10) days of receiving the appeal. Appeals regarding repair, demolition, or vacating a building can be made within ten (10) days from the Public Officer making the decision and must be filed with the Public Officer and the Orange County Board of Adjustment.