Dealing with Vacant Properties
Using a vacant building registry can help motivate owners to maintain buildings and return them to productive use, identify the party responsible for problem properties, monitor vacant properties, and defray costs of providing related municipal services.
A vacant building registry is an ordinance that requires owners (and, in some cases, financial institutions with an interest in a property) to register vacant buildings with a municipality. Effective registry programs also require registrants to pay a fee at regular intervals, which defrays the additional costs of providing municipal services associated with such properties. Fees also create a strong financial incentive for owners to secure and maintain the vacant property and return it to productive use. Effective programs require registrants to provide 24- hour contact information, which makes it easier for a municipality to contact the owner or the owner’s agent if there is a problem with the property. Some registry programs go further and include provisions that compel registrants to maintain, secure, and insure vacant properties and prepare and implement plans to return them to productive use. Good registry programs are implemented in conjunction with strong code enforcement and often include steep fines for noncompliance. A model Vacant Building Ordinance from Emporia, Kansas may be found at the following link: http://www.communitydesignsolutions.com/public/VBO_Emporia_Kansas.docx
Code enforcement alone isn’t always enough to motivate owners to maintain vacant properties. Vacant building registries usually require payment of fees, and these added costs create an additional incentive for owners to maintain their properties.
Identify responsible parties to contact if there is a problem
Municipalities can use the information collected in the registry to contact the party responsible for a property if there is a problem.
Revenue generated from registration fees helps cover costs incurred by municipalities in monitoring vacant properties and enforcing vacant property requirements.