[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Saratoga Springs 2-5-2013. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Saratoga Springs City Council finds that buildings that are left to remain vacant are likely to become both unsightly and unsafe. They quickly develop a negative effect on their surrounding neighborhoods as well as on the entire City. This chapter establishes a method for identifying and registering vacant buildings and imposes reasonable responsibilities for property owners.
The following terms are hereby defined:
- The person or legal entity identified as the property's owner of record in the records of the City Assessor's Office, or a mortgagee or mortgagor in possession of the property, or an assignee of rents, a receiver, an executor, a trustee, a lessee, or any other person or legal entity in control of the premises. Any such person shall be jointly and severally obliged to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
- SECURED BY OTHER THAN NORMAL MEANS
- Secured by means other than those used in the design of the
- UNOCCUPIED BUILDING
- A building or portion thereof which lacks the habitual presence
of human beings who have a legal right to be on the premises, including
buildings ordered vacated by the Code Administrator and his or her
designees. In determining whether a building is unoccupied, the Code
Administrator and his or her designees may consider, but are not limited
to, these factors:[Added 6-7-2016]
- A. Whether a lawful residential or business activity has ceased.
- B. The percentage of the overall square footage of the occupied space to the unoccupied space, or the number of occupied units to unoccupied units.
- C. Whether the building is substantially devoid of contents or whether the value of fixtures or personal property in the building is minimal.
- D. Whether the building lacks utility services.
- E. Whether the building is subject to a foreclosure action.
- F. The duration of the vacancy.
- G. The presence or recurrence of code violations.
- UNSECURED BUILDING
- A building or portion thereof which is open to entry by unauthorized
persons without the use of tools or ladders.[Added 6-7-2016]
- VACANT BUILDING
- A building or portion of a building which is:[Amended 6-7-2016]
- A. Unoccupied and unsecured;
- B. Unoccupied and secured by other than normal means; or
- C. Unoccupied and an unsafe building as determined by the Code Administrator or his or her designees; or
- D. Unoccupied and has multiple housing or building code violations; or
- E. Occupied in violation of one or more of the provisions of this section.
The owner of every vacant building shall register that building with the Office of Code Administration not later than 30 days after the building becomes vacant, or in any case not later than 30 days after receiving notification from the Office of Code Administration that the building must be registered. The Office of Code Administration shall have authority to identify vacant buildings through routine inspections as well as by any other reliable source of information that a building may be eligible for inclusion on the registry.
Registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the Office of Code Administration and shall include the following information:
A description of the premises;
The name and address of the owner;
If the owner does not reside in Saratoga County or in any adjoining county, the name and address of any third party who the owner has contracted with for management of the premises;
The names and addresses of all known lien holders and all other persons with an ownership interest in the premises;
A telephone number where a responsible party can be reached at all times during business and nonbusiness hours;
A written narrative describing the owner's future plan for the premises. Said plan must specify whether the owner intends to allow the building to remain vacant, to return the building to appropriate occupancy or use, or to demolish the building. The plan must also specify a time for its completion, and said time frame shall not exceed 365 days, unless a longer period shall be allowed by the Office of Code Administration in a proper case.
The owner shall immediately notify the Office of Code Administration of any changes in the facts provided on the registration form. If the premises change ownership, the new owner shall file a new registration form within 30 days of the transfer.
A registration shall be renewed annually for so long as the building remains a vacant building. Each renewal shall indicate any changes in the information provided since the previous filing. Each renewal shall also include proof that a fire inspection has been conducted on the premises within 60 days prior to the filing of the renewal.
The Office of Code Administration shall review the registration form and accompanying plan for compliance with local ordinances and state codes.
The Office of Code Administration shall develop, in consultation with the fire department, a schedule for the periodic inspection of each registered premises. A copy of the schedule shall be given to the owner.
Filing of a registration form under this chapter shall not relieve the owner from the obligation to comply with any and all applicable laws.
No building shall be removed from the vacant building registry until such time as it is occupied on an ongoing basis consistent with the customary and usual usage for such property.
The Office of Code Administration shall have authority to inspect any premises in the City for the purpose of determining whether there exists thereon a vacant building as defined in this chapter. Such inspection may be conducted by consent of the owner or upon the issuance of an appropriate court order.
The Fire Department shall establish a written operations procedure for vacant buildings for the purpose of reducing the risks to firefighting personnel and to the public during fire suppression operations. Such procedure may include a system of markings to be placed by the Fire Department on the exterior of the building to indicate specific safety concerns therein. A copy of the operations procedure shall be given to the owner of each registered vacant building, and said owner shall sign a statement indicating that he or she has received a copy of the procedure.
The Office of Code Administration shall maintain a record of all vacant buildings registered or otherwise found to be vacant buildings as defined in this chapter.
Any person or legal entity who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor as defined by § 10.00, Subdivision (4), of the Penal Law, and shall be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 days, but not to exceed one year. Each day on which a continuing violation exists is considered to be and may be charged separately as an individual offense.