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DC DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER & REGUALTORY AFFAIRS Vacant Property Program DC CODE SECTION 42-3131.05 Registration of Vacant Buildings October 4, 2010. MISSION.

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DC DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER & REGUALTORY AFFAIRSVacant Property ProgramDC CODE SECTION 42-3131.05 Registration of Vacant BuildingsOctober 4, 2010


To improve the social and economic health of the District of Columbia by returning vacant properties to productive use and ensuring that owners maintain such properties as clean, safe and secure.

summary of services
Summary of Services

The Vacant Property Unit (VPU) is responsible for investigating, surveying and classifying vacant properties through proactive inspections, complaints from residents and referrals from other agencies and organizations.

city wide survey
City Wide Survey
  • Beginning around October 2007 DCRA conducted a survey of the entire city to identify vacant properties
  • Approximately 3,300 properties were identified as vacant.
what is a vacant property
What is a Vacant Property?
  • DC Code Section 42-3131.05 defines a vacant property as:
  • “… a building, or part of a building, which contains a dwelling or commercial unit … which … has not been occupied continuously.
vacant property classification process
Vacant Property Classification Process
  • The VPU conducts an initial four point survey/inspection to determine whether or not the property has;
  • (1) trash and debris
  • (2) excessive grass and vegetation
  • (3) graffiti and
  • (4) is open and accessible.

Other indicia of vacancy

  • Complaints/information from neighbors
  • “For Sale” signs & property has no furnishings within plain view
  • Accumulated mail
  • Non-functioning utility meters
  • Lack of maintenance; gutters, peeling paint, broken windows and doors.
  • If the survey/inspection provides convincing evidence that the property is vacant a registration packet is sent the owner of record.
  • Owner must return registration application within 30 days (annually)
  • Five days added for mailing to property owner; five days added for owner returning application
  • Property must be re-inspected
  • Minimum of 45 days for process to be completed.
  • VPU conducts re-inspection
  • Property determined to be (a) Vacant or

(b) Vacant & Blighted

  • Owners of vacant properties must maintain and register properties within 30 days after it becomes vacant.
  • Owner shall arrange for the inspection of the building (13 point)
  • Registration lasts for one year …
  • If the owner … fails to comply … the Mayor may deny or revoke the registration and subject the owner to penalties …
Vacant Building Maintenance StandardsDC Code Section 42-3131.12 contains thirteen maintenance standards that must be met:

(1) Doors, windows, areaways, and other openings are weather-tight and secured against entry by birds, vermin, and trespassers, and missing or broken doors, windows, and other openings are secure;

(2) The roof and flashing are sound and tight, will not admit moisture…;

(3) The building storm drainage system is adequately sized and installed;

(4) The interior and exterior is maintained in good repair, structurally sound, free from debris, rubbish, and garbage, and sanitary;

(5) The structural members are free of deterioration and capable of safely bearing imposed dead and live loads;

maintenance standards
Maintenance Standards

(6) The foundation walls are plumb, free from open cracks and breaks, and vermin-proof;

(7) The exterior walls are free of holes, breaks, and loose or rotting materials, and exposed metal and wood surfaces are protected;

(8) The cornices, belt courses, corbels, terra cotta trim, wall facings, and similar decorative features are safe, anchored, and in good repair;

(9) All balconies, canopies, marquees, signs, metal awnings, stairways, fire escapes, standpipes, exhaust ducts, and similar features are in good repair;

(10) Chimneys, cooling towers, smokestacks, and similar appurtenances are structurally safe, sound, and in good repair;

maintenance standards1
Maintenance Standards

(11) Openings in sidewalks are safe for pedestrian travel;

(12) Accessory and appurtenant structures such as garages, sheds, and fences are free from safety, health, and fire hazards; and

(13) The property on which a structure is located is clean, safe, and sanitary and does not threaten the public health or safety.

abatement and condmenation of nuisance properties omnibus act of 2000 effective april 2001
Abatement and Condmenation of Nuisance Properties Omnibus Act of 2000(Effective April 2001)
  • DCRA designated vacant properties; sent list to Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR)
  • Owner could appeal DCRA’s classification to the Office of Administrative Hearings
  • OTR mailed owner proposed vacant property classification notification affording owner one of 15 exemptions
  • OTR had final classification authority
  • Property owner could appeal to BRPPA & then to Superior Court.
Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Temporary Amendment Act of 2007
  • 1 - consolidated exemptions under DCRA
  • 2 - vests fully DCRA with authority to classify
  • 3 - reduced number of exemptions
  • 4 - provides for internal agency appeal procedure
  • 5 - authorizes BRPAA to hear vacant property appeals
vacant property disincentivization amendment act 2010
Vacant Property Disincentivization Amendment Act 2010
  • Effective for tax Year 2010
  • Created Blighted Class- “A blighted vacant building means a vacant building that is determined by the Mayor to be unsafe, insanitary, or which is otherwise determined to threaten the health, safety, or general welfare of the community”
  • Factors to be considered:
  • Subject to condemnation proceeding
  • Boarded up;
  • Failure to comply with maintenance standards
appeal process dc code 42 3131 15 2008 amendment
Appeal ProcessDC Code §42-3131.15 (2008 Amendment)

1. VPU designates property as vacant

Owner submits vacant property application and requests one of the exemptions.

2. Exemption denied and Denial of Registration Exemption is issued.

3. Owner may petition agency for reconsideration within 15 days. Agency has 30 days to issue final Notice of Final Determination (NFD)

4. Within 45 days of NFD owner may file appeal with BRPPA (only if a NFD was issued).

  • Property owners are appealing years prior to 2009
  • Untimely
  • Lack of jurisdiction
  • Property owners are mischaracterizing what they are appealing; assessment vs. classification.
  • Superior Court addresses appeals at the tax sale level