Frequently Asked Questions

Who issues Philadelphia Code Violation Notices (CVNs)?
There are a number of different agencies that issue CVNs including the Philadelphia Streets Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Health Department, Licenses and Inspections, and SEPTA Police.

Who is responsible for paying CVNs?
Most CVNs involve a violation at a specific property. The property owner is the responsible party for these violations. In those instances where the CVN is issued for personal behavior (for example: smoking on public transit), the individual is responsible to pay the ticket.

How are the fine amounts determined?
Fines for all code violations are set by City Ordinance. Ordinances are enacted through the legislative process in Philadelphia by City Council.

I paid my ticket. Why am I still getting notices?
Most often, it is because payment was received late. Payment in full must be received within the time frame specified by law or late penalties are applied. It does not matter that the check was dated before the deadline or that the payment was mailed before the deadline. The only date that matters is the date received. Payments received by mail are processed with the date on which those payments were received at the lockbox. Pay-by-Web and payments made at our cashiering location are applied in real time.

What are the late penalties?
Regardless of the amount of the original fine, there are two late penalties for CVNs if the fine is not paid within the allotted time. Unless answered by payment in full or proper appeal before the due date on your notice, late penalties will be applied.

A family member or tenant was responsible for the violation. If I provide his or her name and address can you transfer the CVN to them?
No. With few exceptions, the property owner is responsible for CVNs issued for violations on their property.

I just cannot afford to pay. Will there be consideration of my financial hardship on appeal?
Financial hardship is not a valid defense although may be considered when requesting abatement of late penalties.

Do I have to appear in person to appeal a ticket?
No. There are three ways to appeal – in person, by web upload or by mail.

Do I have to appear in person to appeal a false alarm violation?
No. There are three ways to appeal – in person, by web upload and by mail.

An in-person hearing provides for a face to face exchange with a Hearing Master. That is not available with a hearing conducted by web upload or mail. A case can be thoroughly evaluated on the strength of written testimony and documentary evidence if that is presented in a clear, complete and well organized package. If you believe that your case can be presented in full without your appearing at a hearing to explain your circumstances, you may choose to use the web upload or mail option.

Who has the burden of proof?
The City’s proof is the CVN itself. If properly issued, meaning that all of the required items of information about the violation observed are recorded on the ticket, the City has met its burden of proof. In order to prevail on appeal, it is up to the respondent (the person appealing) to present thorough testimony and/or physical evidence that the ticket was not validly issued.

Do I need a lawyer?
There is no requirement for representation by a lawyer, though you are certainly entitled to be represented by legal counsel. Most respondents appeal without legal counsel.

Who can represent the property owner in an appeal?
It can be anyone who the property owner authorizes to do so, keeping in mind that whoever that is will be utilizing the owner’s appeal opportunity and in the end the owner bears responsibility for the decision. A notarized affidavit or letter giving permission to your representative is required.

If I choose to appear in person, how long will I be there?
That depends on a variety of factors but, in most circumstances, the entire process takes an hour.

When will my in person hearing happen?
Currently, hearings are scheduled for approximately three months after receipt of request.

Can I reschedule my in person hearing?
Yes. For a regular scheduled hearing you can reschedule twice. If you already scheduled your ticket three times, your ticket will not be eligible for an online dispute.

If I choose to be heard via web upload or mail, when will my hearing occur?
Four to six weeks from receipt of your submission.

Is there any filing fee for a hearing?

Do I have to pay the CVN first and then ask for a hearing?
No. Payment is a guilty plea. Do not pay if you intend to appeal, but do not delay your appeal or late penalties may be assessed.

What happens to my ticket while my hearing is pending?
Once scheduled, or when a document set has been received for a web or mail hearing, a suspend is placed on the ticket or tickets involved until a decision is rendered. No penalties not already assessed will be added and no noticing or collections activity will take place while the suspend is in effect.

What happens if I do not show up for a scheduled hearing?
If you fail to appear for a scheduled hearing any pending late penalties will be assessed and collections efforts will commence.

Is there any assistance offered for hearing impaired persons?
You may request a sign language interpreter for a scheduled in person hearing. When you call or write to schedule your hearing, request that a sign language interpreter be provided.

Is there translation service offered for persons who do not speak English?
Yes, request translation services at the time you schedule your hearing. If you arrive for your hearing without requesting translation services in advance, your hearing may be rescheduled until such time as an interpreter is available.

Who will hear my case?
A Hearing Master employed in that specific role by the City of Philadelphia Office of Administrative Review.

Can the Hearing Master look up the City’s own records?
No. Hearing Masters cannot obtain evidence on your behalf. The only evidence that will be considered is what you submit or present. It is up to you to obtain and present your own evidence such as photographs, police reports, etc., that you believe will support your position.

The property owner is deceased. What happens with those CVNs?
The City may pursue the estate of the deceased property owner.

What if I disagree with the decision or don’t pay the fine after my hearing?
There is no further appeal available to a CVN recipient. If you don’t pay after being found liable through the appeal process, it is the City’s responsibility to pursue payment by filing a Code Enforcement Complaint in Philadelphia Municipal Court. At that time, the City will ask for as much as $300 per CVN plus court costs if the judge finds you liable. As the CVN recipient and defendant, you may appear in Court at that time to dispute the CVN.

How can I make a payment?
You can pay by web at www.phila.gov and select Pay Code Violation notices. You can submit a check or money order made payable to "City of Philadelphia" to PO BOX 56318, Philadelphia, PA 19130. You may pay in person at 913 Filbert Street in Philadelphia. Payments are accepted Monday to Friday 8:00AM until 6:00PM and on Saturday 9:00AM to 1:00PM.

If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds, (1) you authorize eCollect, LLC to make a one-time electronic funds transfer from your account to collect a fee of $20; and (2) eCollect, LLC may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.