§ 13-12-135

Minimum requirements for vacant buildings

For purposes of this section the terms “vacant” and “ownershall be defined as provided in section 13-12-125.  In addition to any other applicable code requirements each vacant building must be kept in compliance with the following requirements for as long as the building remains vacant:

a.

Lot maintenance standards – the lot the building stands on,. and the surrounding public way shall be maintained as follows:

1.

all grass and weeds on the premises including abutting sidewalks, gutters and alleys shall be kept below ten (10) inches in height, and all dead or broken trees, tree limbs or shrubbery shall be cut and removed from the premises;

2.

the interior walkway leading to the main entry door, and any public sidewalk adjoining the lot shall be shoveled clear of snow;

3.

junk, rubbish, waste, and any material that creates a health, safety or fire hazard including but not limited to any mail or flyers that have been delivered to the building shall not be permitted to accumulate on any portion of the exterior lot of the building;

4.

no portion of the lot nor any structure, vehicle, receptacle or object thereon shall be maintained or operated in any manner that causes or produces any health or safety hazard or permits the premises to become a rodent harborage or is conducive to rodent harborage;

5.

the lot shall be maintained so that water does not accumulate or stand on the ground;

6.

all fences and gates shall be maintained in sound condition and in good repair.

b.

Exterior maintenance standards – The exterior of the building shall be enclosed secured and maintained as follows:

1.

foundations, basements, cellars, and crawlspaces shall be maintained in sound and watertight condition adequate to support the building, and protected against the entry of rodents or other animals;

2.

exterior walls shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers, and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or the interior spaces and shall be protected against the entry of rodents or other animals;

3.

exterior windows and doors shall be maintained in sound condition and good repair. Windows and doors shall fit tightly within their frames and the frames shall be constructed and maintained in such relation to the adjacent wall construction as to prevent rain from entering the building;

A.

exterior windows and doors shall be equipped with hardware for locking and the locking mechanism shall be maintained in properly functioning condition;

B.

all points of possible ingress and egress including but not limited to exterior windows and doors shall be secured to prevent unauthorized entry;

C.

any window which is broken, cracked, or missing glass or glazing shall be replaced and maintained in good repair or the building opening shall otherwise be adequately secured pursuant to Section 13-12-135(d);

4.

the roof shall be adequately supported, and shall be maintained in weathertight condition; the gutters, downspouts, scuppers, and appropriate flashing shall be in good repair and adequate to remove the water from the building or structure;

5.

chimneys and flues shall be kept in sound, functional, weathertight condition and in good repair;

6.

every outside stair or step shall be maintained in sound condition and in good repair; every porch, stoop, deck, veranda, balcony and walk shall be maintained in sound condition for its purpose;

7.

all exit areas shall have continuous exterior lighting from dusk to dawn; normal intensity of lighting shall be not less than two footcandles per square foot on the floor surfaces within an eight-foot radius around said exit.  This requirement may be met by the use of battery-powered or solar-powered lighting if such lighting meets the performance standards set by this paragraph.

c.

Interior maintenance standards – The interior of any building shall be maintained as follows:

1.

it is prohibited to accumulate or permit the accumulation of junk, trash and debris, boxes, lumber, scrap metal, junk vehicles or any other materials in such a manner that may produce any health, fire, or safety hazard, or provide harborage for rodents or other animals on the premises; materials stored by the owner or permitted to be stored by the owner shall be stacked safely, and away from stairs or hallways, and any other places of ingress and egress;

2.

every foundation, roof, floor, wall, stair, ceiling, and any other structural support shall be safe and capable of supporting the loads that normal use may cause to be placed thereon and shall be kept in sound condition and in good repair; floors and stairs shall be free of holes, grooves and cracks that could be potentially hazardous;

3.

any plumbing fixtures shall be maintained with no leaking pipes; and all pipes for water shall be either completely drained or heated to resist being frozen;

4.

every exit door maintained as such in compliance with subsection (d)(3) shall be secured with an internal deadbolt lock, or with a locking mechanism deemed equivalent or better by the department of buildings and every such exit door shall be capable of being opened from the inside easily and without the use of a key or special knowledge;

5.

interior stairs shall have treads and risers that have uniform dimensions, are sound, securely fastened, and have no rotting, loose, or deteriorating supports;

6.

every owner shall be responsible for the extermination of insects, rodents and other vermin in or about the premises.

d.

Building security standards – The following standards apply to the securing of vacant buildings:

1.

all building openings shall be closed and secured, using secure doors, glazed windows, commercial-quality steel security panels, or filled with like-kind material as the surrounding wall, as applicable to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. Except as specifically authorized in this subsection (d), use of plywood is prohibited;

2.

openings less than one (1) square foot in area may be boarded with plywood, provided that the boarding is made weathertight and finished with varnish, or paint of a similar color to the exterior wall and cut to the inside dimension of the exterior of the opening, and otherwise secured in the manner prescribed by rules and regulations issued by the department of buildings;

3.

at least one building entrance shall be accessible from the exterior and secured with a door that is locked to allow access only to authorized persons; a minimum of two exit doors shall be available to exit from the interior of the building, with at least one exit door available per 150 linear feet of horizontal travel at ground-floor level;

4.

for the first six months a building is vacant but not thereafter, openings more than one square foot in area may be boarded with plywood, which shall be installed and secured as prescribed by this section and by rules and regulations issued by the department of buildings;

5.

if a building has been vacant for six months or longer, or upon any renewal of the registration statement required in Section 13-12-125, the building owner must implement and provide proof satisfactory to the department of buildings that, in addition to complying with the security standards set forth elsewhere in this subsection (d), said building either: (i) contains all of the security features set forth in subparagraph (A), or (ii) is unviolated, as described in subparagraph (B):

A.

every opening larger than one (1) square foot in area that is located less than eight feet above the ground or that is accessible from ground level or within eight feet in any direction of an exterior stairway, fire escape, or other means of access shall be closed and secured with a commercial-quality, 14-gauge, rust-proof steel security panel or door:

i.

security panels and doors shall have an exterior finish that allows for easy graffiti removal; and

ii.

security panels and doors shall be secured from the interior of the building to prevent unauthorized removal.

B.

For purposes of this paragraph (5), the term “unviolated” shall refer to a building: (i) that has a permanent door or window, as applicable, in each appropriate building opening; (ii) that has each such door or window secured to prevent unauthorized entry; and (iii) that has all of its door and window components, including without limitation, frames, jambs, rails, stiles, muntins, mullions, panels, sashes, lights and panes, intact and unbroken.  A building that does not meet the definition of “unviolated” shall be deemed “violated”.

C.

It shall be a violation of this subparagraph (d)(5)(C) for a vacant building to become violated, if the owner has provided proof to the department of buildings that such building is unviolated.  With respect to a vacant building represented by the owner as unviolated, if the commissioner of buildings determines, based on an inspection by the department of buildings or a report prepared by another city agency and provided to the department of buildings, that such building is violated, said commissioner shall send by certified mail a written notice of violation to the person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the building or to the authorized agent for service of process as identified on the sign required by Section 13-12-125(b)(2), or if there is no such sign, then sent by certified mail to the owner of record.  Within 30 days of the mailing of such notice of violation, the owner shall be required to either: (i) comply with subparagraph (5)(A) of this section, or (ii) restore the building to an unviolated state and also install and maintain a working burglar alarm system, as defined in Section 4-400-010, and have an active account with a third party burglar alarm company.  The burglar alarm system shall connect to all areas of the building subject to unauthorized human entry, including, but not limited to, all exterior doors, windows or other readily accessible openings.  The burglar alarm system shall, upon detecting unauthorized entry, send an automatic signal to a burglar alarm company that has twenty-four (24)-hour live operators who will monitor the system and telephone the building owner or designated agent of the unauthorized entry, and who will also telephone the police department to inform it of the unauthorized entry, if there is no adequate response from the building owner or designated agent.

e.

Rules and regulations – The building commissioner may issue rules and regulations for the administration of this section.  These rules may specify additional board-up materials which may be used when securing a building, if proof is provided, satisfactory to the building commissioner, that such materials will perform in a manner equivalent to, or better than, the materials specified herein.

f.

Fines and penalties – Any person who violates any provision of this section or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be fined not less than $500.00 and not more than $1,000.00 for each offense.  Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.  Fines assessed under this chapter shall be recoverable from the owner and shall be a lien on the property.

(Added Coun. J. 7-30-08, p. 36080, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 7-28-11, p. 5537, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 11-2-11, p. 11801, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 217)

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