Topics on this page:
- What is the Housing Code?
- Compliance Required
- Definition of "habitable room"
- Exterior property areas
- Exterior structure
- Interior structure
- Basic facilities
- Installation and maintenance
- Occupancy requirements
- Light and ventilation
- Fire safety
- Responsibilities of occupants and owners
- Rooming Houses
- Violations, notice, and penalties
- Hardship exceptions
What is the Housing Code?
The Prince George's County Housing Code sets minimum standards for all dwellings, all structures intended or used for human habitation, whether one-family, two-family, or multi-family, including movable units such as travel trailers and mobile homes. The Housing Code contains detailed provisions relating to fire safety, maintenance, space and occupancy limitations, basic equipment and facilities for heat, light, ventilation, sanitation, the responsibilities of owners, operators, and occupants, and enforcement and penalties.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-107
Enforcement of the Housing Code is the responsibility of the Director of the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources (hereafter referred to as the "Director").
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-102
Several incorporated cities and towns in Prince George’s County have adopted their own housing codes. County law requires that the local codes provide standards at least as strict as the County code. You should contact your local municipal government to find out whether a local housing code or the County Housing Code applies. You can find more details and contact information about each municipality at this List of Municipalities.
For additional information, see these links to the most frequently used Prince George’s County Housing Codes for Property Maintenance, and the Building Codes and Bulletins (changes or modifications to the building permit process).
The following is a summary of some, but not all, of the requirements of the Housing Code.
No person may occupy as an owner-occupant or lease to a tenant to occupy a dwelling unit which does not meet the requirements of this Code.
Definition of "habitable room"
"Habitable room" means a room or enclosed floor space arranged for living, eating, and sleeping. It does not include bathrooms, toilet compartments, laundries, pantries, foyers, hallways, and other accessory floor spaces.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 27 §27-107.01(23)
>Exterior property areas
Exterior areas must be kept clean, without any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-118(a)
Premises must be graded and maintained to prevent accumulation of stagnant water outside or within any structure on the premises.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 4 §4-191
Exterior areas must be kept free of excessive weed growth and plants which are harmful to public health.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-118(d)
With the exception of single-family premises, exterior infestations of insects, rodents and other pests are the responsibility of the owner to exterminate. In single-family premises, the occupant is responsible. The owner is responsible for extermination where the infestation is in the shared or public areas of a two family or multi-family dwelling.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-121
Accessory structures such as detached garages, driveways, fences, walkways, etc., must be kept structurally safe and in good repair. Exterior steps and walkways must be kept free of unsafe obstructions or hazardous conditions.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-118(e)
The foundation, roof, exterior walls, and all other exterior surfaces must be kept in a workmanlike state of repair and in a condition to exclude rodents. The foundation must adequately support the building.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-240(a) and 14 §4-123
Exterior walls and exposed surfaces must be free of holes, loose boards, or any other condition that might let in rain or dampness. Exterior wood surfaces must periodically be coated with a weather-resistant preservative and must be maintained in good condition. Exterior metal surfaces subject to rust or corrosion must also be protected. Roof drainage must be adequate to prevent interior dampness.
Exterior stairs, porches, etc., must be safe, capable of supporting the loads to which they are subjected, and kept in good repair. Stairs and porches which are more than four risers high must be provided with handrails.
Windows, doors, and basement hatchways must be weather tight and kept in good repair. Windows must be fully supplied with glass panes or an approved substitute, without holes or open cracks. Every window other than a fixed window must be easily opened and held in position by window hardware. Basement hatchways must prevent entrance of rodents, rain, and surface drainage water.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §304.13
Buildings must have approved address numbers placed in a position that is legible and visible from the street or road in front of the property. These numbers have to contrast with their background. All structures that contain more than one address must have numbers at least eight inches high. For all other residential structures, address numbers must be minimum of four inches high with a stroke width of 0.5 inches.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-119(a)
Each swinging entrance door to an individual apartment must have a deadbolt lock with a minimum throw (horizontal extension) of 5/8 of an inch, with the deadbolt operated by key from the outside and by turn-knob from the inside. Locks and installation are subject to specific approval of the Director. All exterior doors and door hinges, locks, and latches must be kept in working condition.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-119(c)
All swinging entrance doors to an individual apartment must either currently have a magnifying peephole, or must be provided with one which will provide a 180 degree viewing angle to allow the occupant to view the entrance area while the door is closed.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-119(d)
Locking devices must be provided for all patio and balcony sliding entrance doors and for all windows two stories or less above grade or accessible from a balcony. Security bars and jimmy plates are acceptable. The device and installation are subject to the approval of the Director, who shall coordinate approval with the Police Department.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-119(e)
In multi-family dwellings where the exterior entrance doors to the building are not secured, the entrance doors to laundry rooms, storage areas, and other similar areas in the building must be provided with the type of deadbolt lock described above, and tenants must be provided with access keys.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-119(f)
Every door available for exit must be openable from the inside, easily and without use of a key.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 11 §11-254(b)
Every openable basement or cellar window must be supplied with a corrosion-resistive rodent-proof shield or screen with specific qualifications.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 12 §12-145
Insect screens of at least sixteen mesh per inch must be provided from June 1 to October 15 each year as follows: for every door opening directly to the outdoors; for 50% of each window used for ventilation; and for all other openings unless specifically exempted or modified by the Director. Each hinged screen door must have a self-closing device in good working condition. No screens are required for dwelling units above the fifth floor, and screen doors are not required for the main entrance door of a multi-family dwelling.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 4 §4-181
The following requirements apply to occupancy of, or to leasing for occupancy, a dwelling, rooming house, rooming unit, multi-family dwelling, or portion thereof.
The supporting elements of the structure must be sound, showing no evidence of deterioration which would render them unable to carry the imposed loads as required by the Building code. Interior stairs must be constructed and maintained to be safe to use.
All interiors must be kept clean and free from accumulations of rubbish and garbage. All refuse must be properly kept in temporary storage facilities.
Insects and rodents must be promptly exterminated by acceptable processes which are not harmful to human health. After extermination, care must be taken to prevent re-infestation.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 12 §12-155
When infestation exists in two or more dwelling units in a building, or in the shared or public areas of the building, the owner is responsible for extermination. Where a single dwelling unit in a building is infested, the occupant of that unit is responsible for extermination. However, when a rodent infestation is caused by the failure of the owner to maintain the building in a rodent-proof condition, the owner is responsible for extermination regardless of how many units are infested.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §309
Interior walls, floors, and ceilings must be kept clean, safe, structurally sound, free of holes and cracks, loose plaster or wallpaper, flaking or scaling paint, and must be substantially insect and rodent proof. Paint used for interior surfaces must be lead free.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-120
Multi-family buildings, except those constructed originally for one or two families, must have the following readily visible signs in interior hallways and stairways to offer direction to specific dwelling units or floors:
- Primary Doors: All primary entrance doors into a dwelling unit must have permanent visible markings which identify that unit;
- Opposite Elevators: The wall directly facing an elevator exit, except the lobby exit, must have a permanent sign indicating the most direct route to each dwelling unit on that floor. The sign must have bold letters at least one-half inch high;
- Hallway Junctions: A similar sign is required at any junction of a hallway, except where the sign required under b) is visible from the junction; and
- Stairway Doors: The stairway side of a door leading from a stairway to a hallway must have a sign indicating the floor level or the identification numbers of the dwelling units on that floor level. The sign must have bold letters at least six inches high.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-122
The following requirements apply to the occupancy or lease of any dwelling unit.
Each unit must contain: a) a room with a water closet (toilet) and a sink for washing, separate from the habitable rooms and providing privacy; b) a room with a bathtub or shower and providing privacy; and c) a kitchen sink separate from the sink in the toilet room.
Each dwelling unit must contain properly installed cooking and baking facilities. The dwelling unit must also have a refrigeration unit capable of maintaining an average temperature of less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. These appliances must be properly installed and operated and kept clean.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-123(e)
All required sinks, bathtubs, toilets, etc., must be properly connected either to a public water and sewer system or to an approved private water and sewer system, and except for toilets, must be supplied with hot and cold running water.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §505.1
Water heating facilities must be supplied to each dwelling unit to permit an adequate amount of water at each required sink, bathtub, laundry facility, etc., at a temperature of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit at any time.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-126
Each dwelling must have heating facilities. The owner of the heating facility is required to insure that it is properly installed, safely maintained, in good working condition, and capable of heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet rooms to an average temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature is 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 4 §4-201(a)
For rented units, the owner must supply heat from September 15 to May 15 and maintain an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit in all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet rooms.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-127
Every dwelling, dwelling unit, and multi-family dwelling must have approved, covered containers for storage of rubbish. The owner, operator, or agent in control is responsible for removal of the rubbish. Every dwelling, dwelling unit, and multi-family dwelling must also have an approved facility for garbage disposal. It may be a mechanical sink grinder, an approved outside garbage can, or an incinerator, approved by the Director, within the building for the use of the occupants.
Installation and maintenance
All required equipment, plumbing systems, heating equipment, electrical fixtures and outlets, etc., must be properly installed and maintained by landlords.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-153
Occupants must keep all housing facilities clean and sanitary.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-156
Habitable spaces, hallways, corridors, laundry areas, bathrooms, toilet rooms and habitable basement areas must have a clear ceiling height of at least 7 feet Dwellings built before 1966 may be exempt from these requirements if the dwelling complied with the requirements in effect at the time the dwelling was built.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §404.3
A living room must be at least 120 square feet, and a sleeping room for one occupant must have a minimum floor area of 70 square feet. If a bedroom has more than one occupant, a minimum of 50 square feet is needed for each person who will sleep in the room. ("Occupant" means "any individual living or sleeping in a building, or having possession of a space within a building.")
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §404.4
In a residence building or dwelling unit with two or more sleeping rooms, access to a bathroom or toilet room intended for use by the occupants of more than one sleeping room may not be solely through another sleeping room. Access to a sleeping room may not be solely through another sleeping room or through a bathroom or toilet room.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §404.4
A dwelling unit partly below grade (like a basement) may be used for living purposes only if: a) floors and walls are watertight; b) total window area, total openable area, and ceiling height comply with this Code; and c) the required minimum window area of each habitable room is entirely above the grade of the ground adjoining the window.
Light and ventilation
Every habitable room must have at least one window of approved size facing directly to the outdoors or to a court. Minimum window area for a habitable room is 8% of the floor area of the room, except that in kitchens, artificial light may be substituted in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Building Code. Certain exterior walls and obstructions located within three feet of a window will prevent it from being included as part of the required window area.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §402
Where electrical service is available for the building, each habitable room must have at least two separate and remote electrical outlets, one of which may be a ceiling or wall light fixture. Every public hall, toilet room, bathroom, laundry or furnace room must have at least one electric light fixture. Every bathroom and laundry room must have at least one electric outlet in addition to the electric light fixture.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §605
Every habitable room must have at least one easily opened window or other device to adequately ventilate the room. Except where mechanical ventilation is provided, the openable window area must equal at least 45% of the required window area. Bathrooms and toilet rooms must comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms unless they have an approved ventilation system.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §403
All dwellings, including rooming houses, rooming units, lodging houses and lodging units, must comply with the Fire Prevention sections of the Basic Building Code and the following requirements:
Cooking, heating, and water heating equipment and accessories must be kept free from leaks and obstructions and free from fire, health, and accident hazards. Installations and repairs must comply with Building Code and other laws. Portable cooking and heating equipment using flame are prohibited.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-123(f)
Smoke detectors must be installed by the owner of each multi-family dwelling unit in accordance with the County smoke detector law.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 11 §11-258
Responsibilities of occupants and owners
The occupant of a dwelling unit must keep clean and sanitary the part of the premises which he occupies, controls, or uses. Rubbish and garbage must be disposed of in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in the required rubbish containers or garbage disposal facilities.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §308
All occupants of dwelling units must keep the basic facilities such as cooking and refrigeration equipment, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, etc., clean and sanitary, and are responsible for using reasonable care in their proper use.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-123(e)
Every plumbing or electrical fixture or other basic facility furnished by the occupant must be properly installed and operated, kept clean and in good working condition, and free of defects, leaks, or obstruction.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §504.1
An occupant who willfully destroys or impairs any equipment, facility, or part of the structure of a dwelling is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to the penalties provided in this Code. Normal deterioration and normal use and wear are not violations.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §106.3
A single motor vehicle which is wrecked, dismantled, or not currently licensed may be kept in a wholly enclosed garage. The storage of any other wrecked, dismantled, or not currently licensed motor vehicle on the premises is prohibited.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §304.2
Responsibilities mandated by this Code cannot be transferred or removed by a contract, lease, or other agreement.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-112
Every person who operates a rooming house or who occupies or leases to someone a rooming unit in a rooming house must comply with the provisions of the Housing Code, with the following exceptions and special provisions:
Where toilet and washing facilities are shared, there must be at least one toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower, properly connected to an approved water and sewer system and in good working condition, for every four rooms. They must be directly accessible from a common hall or passageway, not more than one story removed from any room sharing the facility, and may not be in a cellar.
Cooking is not permitted in any rooming unit of a rooming house, unless approved in the certificate of occupancy. Devices like coffee pots and microwaves are not considered cooking appliances.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §403.3
Wash basins, bathtubs, and showers must be supplied with hot and cold water at all times. The rooms where these facilities are located must be separate from habitable rooms and must afford privacy. Each window must have a shade, draw drapes, or other device providing privacy to the occupant of the room.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-123
The operator is responsible for keeping every part of the rooming house clean and sanitary. Where the operator uses the entire building as a rooming house, he is responsible for sanitary maintenance of the entire premises.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §301.2
Violations, notice, and penalties
When the Director determines that the Housing Code has been violated, or that there are reasonable grounds to believe that it has been violated, he serves notice upon the person responsible. The notice is delivered to the owner or occupant personally, or is sent by certified or first-class mail to the last known address. , If the notice is returned undelivered, a copy of the notice must be posted in a conspicuous place in or on the dwelling.
The violation notice must be in writing, specify the property, the violation and the remedial action required, and allow reasonable time for compliance.
If the notice is not complied with, the Director may take action, including a proceeding at law or equity, against the person responsible and may, if appropriate, order the premises vacated.
Read the code: International Property Maintenance Code §106.3
A violation of the Housing Code is a misdemeanor. A person, firm, or corporation convicted of a violation will be fined a maximum of $500 or imprisoned for up to ninety days, or both. Each day that a violation continues after a notice has been served and not complied with is a separate offense.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-111
Where the literal requirements of the Housing Code would cause undue hardship, a written application for an exception may be sent to the Director, stating the reason for the request. Exceptions are granted in writing and only under conditions that protect reasonable safety and sanitation. Exceptions are subject to review by the County Council.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 4 §4-119