Keeping the code

  Students venturing off-campus next year may be surprised about the difficulties of dealing with proper code enforcement and living among Burlington residents. While living off campus, student residents are obligated to follow minimum housing, zoning, vacant building and health laws regulated by the Burlington Department of Code Enforcement, according to the Code Enforcement website. The department follows city ordinance chapter 18, which has a list of codes and violations that define whether or not a building is fit for residents to occupy, said Bill Ward, director of code enforcement. A building is inspected every three years and must follow some minimum standards set by the department including lighting, ventilation, and moisture presence, Ward said. If an inspection is about to expire or the department receives any complaints, a residency can be declared unfit for habitation, he said. The most common reason for a building to be unfit is due to its heating system, he said. If the heat does not go above 65 degrees, the unit will be considered faulty. “The biggest concern for students living off campus is that they don’t even know these codes exist,” he said. “There are effectively dozens of regulations.” Some violations students may not be aware of are home maintenance violations and the possible consequences as a result of poor exterior conditions. The Department of Code Enforcement recommends that new residents should keep their yard clear of trash and inappropriate items such as tires and furniture in order to avoid fines. Grills and barbeques are also prohibited from porches and must be used at least 15 feet from the building, the department’s website said. New student residents can find Burlington building codes online at www.ci.burlington.vt.us. The website also offers a “survival guide” for students living off campus and a full list of recommendations for how to maintain a habitable residence.