[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Rensselaer 9-15-2004 by L.L. No. 5-2004. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 85.
Fire Prevention and Building Code — See Ch. 101.
Garbage, rubbish and refuse — See Ch. 113.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 147.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant buildings to determine the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and structures and to speed the rehabilitation of vacant properties.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings indicated in this section.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- A duly authorized representative of the Building Department.
- Those shown to be the owner on the records of the City of Rensselaer Assessor's Office, those identified as the owner or owners on a vacant building registration form, a mortgagee in possession, a mortgagor in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, other person, firm or corporation in control of the premises. Any such person shall have a joint and several obligations for compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
- SECURED BY OTHER THAN NORMAL MEANS
- A building secured by means other than those used in the design of the building.
- A building which is not being used for any occupancy authorized by the owner.
- A building, or portion of a building, which is open to entry by unauthorized persons without the use of tools or ladders.
The owner shall register with the Building Department not later than 30 days after any building located in an area zoned for, or abutting an area zoned for, residential uses becomes a vacant building, as defined in § 85A-2, or not later than 30 days after being notified by the Building Department of the requirement to register. The Department may identify vacant buildings through its routine inspection process as well as through notification of residents and business owners that a building may be eligible for inclusion in the registry.
The registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the Building Department and shall include the following information provided by the owner:
A description of the premises.
The names and addresses of the owner or owners.
If the owner does not reside in Rensselaer County or any adjoining county, the name and address of any third party with whom the owner has entered into a contract or agreement for property management.
The names and addresses of all known lien holders and all other parties with an ownership interest in the building.
A telephone number where a responsible party can be reached at all times during business and nonbusiness hours.
The owners shall submit a vacant building plan, which must meet the approval of the Building Department. The plan, at a minimum, must contain information from one of the following three choices for the property:
If the building is to be demolished, a demolition plan indicating the proposed time frame for demolition.
If the building is to remain vacant, a plan for the securing of the building in accordance with standards provided in § 121-80, if applicable, along with the procedure that will be used to maintain the property in accordance with Article XI, and a statement of the reasons why the building will be left vacant.
If the building is to be returned to appropriate occupancy or use, a rehabilitation plan for the property; the rehabilitation plan shall not exceed 365 days, unless the enforcement officer grants an extension upon receipt of a written statement from the owner detailing the reasons for the extension. Any repairs, improvements, or alterations to the property must comply with any applicable zoning, housing, building, and historic district regulations and must be secured during the rehabilitation.
The enforcement officer shall provide the owner with a written referral to the Planning and Development Agency for information outlining programs available which may be useful in developing the owner's rehabilitation plan.
All applicable laws and codes shall be complied with by the owner. The owner shall notify the enforcement officer of any changes in information supplied as a part of the vacant building registration within 30 days of the change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way, the revisions must be in writing and must meet the approval of the enforcement officer.
The owner and subsequent owners shall keep the buildings secured and safe and the building and ground properly maintained as provided in Chapter 3 of the Property Maintenance Code of New York State. The exterior of boarding material over openings shall be painted to match adjacent walls.
Failure of the owner or any subsequent owners to maintain the building and premises that results in remedial action taken by the City shall be grounds for revocation of the approved plan and shall be subject to any applicable penalties by the law.
New owners shall register or reregister the vacant building with the enforcement officer within 30 days of any transfer of an ownership interest in a vacant building. The new owners shall comply with the approved plan and timetable submitted by the previous owner until any proposed changes are submitted and approval of the enforcement officer.
The owner of a vacant building shall pay an annual fee of $200 for the period the building remains a vacant building. The fee shall be reasonably related to the administrative costs for registering and processing the vacant building owner registration form and for the costs of the City in monitoring the vacant building site.
The first annual fee shall be paid no later than 30 days after the building becomes vacant. If the fee is not paid within 30 days of being due, the owner shall be subject to prosecution as prescribed in Chapter 85, Unsafe Buildings, § 85-17. If a plan is extended beyond 365 days, subsequent annual fees shall be due on the anniversary date.
The fee shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building permits, with the exception of a demolition permit. The fee shall be prorated, and a refund may be issued if the building is no longer deemed vacant under the provisions of this chapter within 180 days of its registry.
All delinquent fees shall be paid by the owner prior to any transfer of an ownership interest in any vacant building. If the fees are not paid prior to any transfer, the new owner shall pay the annual fee no later than 30 days after the transfer of ownership, and subsequent annual fees shall be due on the new anniversary date.
The enforcement officer shall include in the file any property-specific written statements from community organizations, other interested parties or citizens regarding the history, problems, status or blighting influence of a vacant building.
The Building Department shall inspect any premises in the City for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Upon the request of the enforcement officer, an owner may provide access to all interior portions of an unoccupied building in order to permit a complete inspection. Nothing contained herein, however, shall diminish the owner's right to insist upon the procurement of a search warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction by the enforcement officer or his or her designee in order to enable such inspection, and the enforcement officer shall be required to obtain a search warrant whenever an owner refuses to permit a warrantless inspection of the premises after having been advised of his or her constitutional right to refuse entry without same.