City of New Castle, DE
New Castle County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by The Mayor and Council of New Castle 3-11-2003. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Liens — See Ch. 39.
Building construction — See Ch. 102.
Building standards for one- and two-family dwellings — See Ch. 103.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 126.
Housing standards — See Ch. 140.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 185.
This chapter shall be known as the "Dangerous or Vacant Buildings Code" and is herein referred to as such or "this code."
The purpose of this code is to protect the public health, safety and welfare as to buildings or structures in the City of New Castle which are determined to be vacant, defective or to have deteriorated to the extent that they constitute a blight that affects the quality of life of the citizens of New Castle, as well as being public health and safety hazards. This Code will fix the responsibilities of owners, operators and occupants of buildings and structures and will provide for administration, enforcement and penalties as to dangerously defective buildings or structures.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this code, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
BUILDING OFFICIAL
Either the Housing Official appointed by City Council to administer and enforce the Housing Code (See § 140-7.) or the administrative official designated by City Council to administer and enforce the City's Zoning Ordinance. (See § 230-41.)
DANGEROUS BUILDINGS
All buildings or structures, including, but not limited to, buildings and structures used for dwelling purposes, which have any or all of the following defects:
A. 
Those whose interior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
B. 
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show 33% or more of damage or deterioration of the supporting member or members, or 50% of damage or deterioration of the nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
C. 
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded, or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe, for the purpose used.
D. 
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety, or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the City.
E. 
Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, unsanitary or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living that they are unfit for human habitation, or are likely to cause sickness or disease, so as to work injury to the health, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
F. 
Those having light, air and sanitation facilities which are inadequate to protect the health, safety or general welfare of human beings who live or may live therein.
G. 
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property.
H. 
Those which because of their condition are unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous to the health, safety or general welfare of the people of the City.
VACANT
As to a residential building or structure means that no one has resided in such building or structure for a period of 45 days. As to a commercial or industrial building or structure, they shall be deemed vacant if not used for the commercial or industrial use to which previously dedicated or for any other legitimate permissible use for a period of 45 days.
A. 
The owners of any dangerous building who shall fail to comply with any notice or order to repair, vacate or demolish the building given by the Building Official and/or Board of Building Appeals shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to punishment as provided in § 141-4D of this code.
B. 
The occupant or lessee in possession who fails to comply with any notice to vacate or who fails to repair the building in accordance with any notice given by the Building Official and/or Board of Building Appeals as provided for in this code shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to punishment as provided in § 141-4D of this code.
C. 
Any person removing the notice or placard provided for in § 141-8I shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to punishment as provided in § 141-4D of this code for each offense.
D. 
Any person who shall violate any provision of this code or who fails to comply with any notice or order issued by the Building Official and/or Board of Building Appeals as set forth in Subsections A, B and C above, shall be fined not less than $200 nor more than $500 or imprisoned for a term of not more than 30 days, or both for a first offense. For a subsequent like offense, violation shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 or by a term of imprisonment of not more than 60 days, or both. Each day of continuing violation shall be deemed a separate offense. The application of the foregoing penalty shall not preclude application to a court of equity for appropriate injunctive relief.
A. 
The following standards shall govern decisions by the Building Official and/or the Board of Building Appeals in ordering any repairs, vacation, or demolition of a building determined to be dangerous in violation of this code:
(1) 
If, under all of the circumstances, it would be reasonable to repair the building so that it will no longer exist in violation of this code, it shall be ordered repaired. Factors that may be taken into consideration in determining whether it is reasonable to make repairs may include, but shall not be limited to, the extent and estimated cost of the repairs necessary in comparison to the fair market value or fair rental value of the building if such repairs were made; the practicality of making such repairs due to construction, engineering, safety, or similar constraints; the uniqueness of the building from an architectural or historic vantage point; and the financial ability of the owner, occupant, or lien holder to initiate such repairs and complete them in a workmanlike and timely manner. Where the building is located within an historic district or if eligible for nomination to the National Historic Register, consultation with the Historic Area Commission shall occur throughout the procedures provided for by this code.
(2) 
If the building is in such condition, or if authorized repair work is such as to endanger the health, safety, or general welfare of the building's occupants, it shall be ordered vacated.
(3) 
In all cases where it is determined that it would not be reasonable to repair the building so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this code, it shall be ordered demolished.
(4) 
In all cases where it is determined that a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this code or any City ordinance or state statute, it shall be ordered demolished.
(5) 
In any case where the building is determined to be damaged, decayed, or deteriorated to such an extent as to require replacement of 50% or more of its major structural components (e.g., foundation, supporting structural members, floors, exterior walls, roof, windows and doors); the total square footage of all enclosed floor area; or the reasonably estimated current cost (including all labor, materials, engineering, building permits, insurance, and the like) of reconstructing the entire building then, in such case, the building shall be ordered demolished.
B. 
Provided, however, anything herein to the contrary notwithstanding:
(1) 
Whenever a building has been ordered repaired, but the owner, occupants, or lien holders have not, within a reasonable time (not to exceed one year) properly completed all repairs necessary so that the building will no longer exist in violation of the provisions of this code, a rebuttable presumption shall arise that it is not reasonable to repair the building and the Building Official shall re-initiate proceedings under this code to have the building demolished.
(2) 
Whenever any building has been ordered demolished and any property owner, occupant, or lien holder provides the City with a written performance bond, in a form acceptable to the City, with approved surety, to make all repairs, modifications, and replacements approved by the Building Official as necessary, so that the building will no longer exist in violation of this code, the property owner shall be allowed a reasonable period of time under the circumstances, (not exceeding one year), to make such repairs, modifications, and/or replacements. Approved surety may include a completion bond issued in favor of the City by a reputable insurance company licensed to do business in this state, or an irrevocable letter of credit in an amount equal to 125% of the estimated cost of the project from a bank with offices in this state, or a first lien mortgage on real estate in this state having an appraised value of not less than 150% of the estimated cost of the project, or cash in an amount equal to 125% of the estimated cost of the project to be held by the City pending completion of the project. For purposes hereof, the estimated cost of the project shall be determined by a professional engineer and shall include all costs associated with the project, including construction, permits, insurance, landfill charges, and landscaping/restoration.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any owner, agent, or person in control of any building or structure which is vacant and open or otherwise dangerous to fail to secure and board up the open areas of any such building. If, after a reasonable time, the building or structure is not secured, but rather it remains vacant and open or otherwise dangerous, the Building Official may enter upon the premises, building or structure and secure or board up the open areas of such building or structure, or cause the same to be done. If the Building Official is denied entrance to the premises, building or structure for purposes of securing and boarding up the open areas of such building or structure, he/she may, upon a showing of probable cause, obtain a warrant from a Justice of the Peace for purposes of entering and securing and boarding up the subject building or structure.
B. 
The owner or owners of the subject building or structure shall be jointly and severally liable to the City for the full amount so expended in securing and boarding it up. The owner, agent or person in control of such building or structure shall reimburse the City for all costs incurred by the City in so securing or boarding up such building or structure. The City may maintain an action at law in debt against such owner or owners to recover the amount of money so expended, plus lawful interest, court costs and legal fees.
C. 
When any person is found guilty, whether by trial or by admission, of violating provisions of this § 141-6, in instances in which such person, at the time of sentencing for such violation, also has not reimbursed the City for costs incurred by the City in securing and boarding up the open areas of any building or structure regarding which such person or persons shall be found guilty, the Justice of the Peace shall be requested to order such person or persons to make full restitution to the City for such costs in addition to and not in lieu of any fine which the court may impose.
D. 
Unless an extension is granted pursuant to Subsection E, it shall be unlawful to permit a building or structure to be vacant and boarded up for a period exceeding 45 days.
(1) 
A first offense shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500, or by a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both.
(2) 
A subsequent like offense shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000, or by a term of imprisonment of not more than 60 days, or both.
(3) 
Each day a building or structure is vacant and boarded up for a period in excess of 45 days constitutes a separate offense.
E. 
It shall be within the discretion of the Building Official to grant an extension of time to permit a vacant building to remain so in excess of 45 days, but no more than six months, if active rehabilitation of the structure is on-going and the following requirements are met:
(1) 
The owner of the property must submit a written letter to the Building Official stating the specific work taking place or to take place, including a time table of each aspect of the rehabilitation.
(2) 
All necessary building permits must be acquired, or if previously acquired, must be active.
(3) 
The work being performed must be continual throughout the entire period the building remains vacant.
All dangerous buildings are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished as provided in this code.
The Building Official shall:
A. 
Inspect or cause to be inspected periodically, all public buildings, schools, halls, churches, theaters, inns, tourist homes, tenements, commercial, manufacturing, or loft buildings for the purpose of determining whether any conditions exist which render such places a dangerous building, as follows:
(1) 
As to buildings held out to the public, the Building Official may periodically enter to inspect such buildings without reasonable suspicion. This includes, but is not limited to, schools, churches, restaurants, and other public buildings.
(2) 
As to private buildings, including but not limited to any structure used for private dwelling purposes or rented for such purpose, the Building Official may not enter periodically to inspect such buildings and may only enter such buildings if the Building Official has a reasonable suspicion of a violation of this code. A reasonable suspicion is any reasonable ground to suspect a violation of this code.
B. 
Inspect any building, wall or structure about which complaints are filed by any resident, adjoining property owner, or occupant thereof, to the effect that a building, wall or structure is or may be existing in violation of this code.
C. 
Inspect any building, wall or structure reported (as provided for in this code) by any resident, adjoining property owner, or occupant thereof, as probably existing in violation of the terms of this code.
D. 
Inspect such other buildings as shall from time to time come to his/her attention as possibly dangerous buildings.
E. 
Notify, in writing, by registered or certified mail, the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County, of any building found by him/her to be a dangerous building that:
(1) 
The owner must vacate, repair or demolish in accordance with the terms of the notice and this code.
(2) 
The occupant or lessee must vacate the building or have it repaired in accordance with the notice and this code.
(3) 
The mortgagee, agent or other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County may, at his/her own risk, repair, vacate or demolish the building or have such work or act done.
(4) 
Any person notified under this subsection to repair, vacate or demolish any building shall be given such reasonable time, not exceeding 30 days, as may be necessary to do, or have done, the work or act required by the notice.
F. 
Set forth in the notice provided for in Subsection E of this section, a description of the building or structure deemed unsafe, a statement of the particulars which make the building or structure a dangerous building and an order requiring the same to be put in such condition as to comply with the terms of this code within such length of time, not exceeding 30 days, as is reasonable.
G. 
Report to the Board of Building Appeals any noncompliance with the notice provided for in Subsections E and F of this section.
H. 
Appear at all hearings conducted by the Board of Building Appeals and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
I. 
Place a notice or placard on all dangerous buildings reading as follows: "This building has been found to be a dangerous building by the Building Official. This notice is to remain on this building until it is repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the notice which has been given to the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee or agent of this building, and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County. It is unlawful to remove this notice until such notice is complied with." In addition, the notice or placard shall include the following:
(1) 
The location and/or address.
(2) 
The name of the authorized department having jurisdiction
(3) 
The chapter and section of the Code under which the notice issued.
(4) 
An order that the building or structure, when vacated, must remain vacant until the provisions of the order are complied with and the order to vacate is withdrawn.
(5) 
The date that the placard is posted and the date when the property must be vacated.
(6) 
A statement of the penalty for defacing or removing the placard.
J. 
Prosecute all persons failing to comply with the terms of the order provided for above.
K. 
Service of notice to vacate shall be as follows:
(1) 
Notice shall be deemed to be served upon the responsible person if the copy thereof is delivered to him/her personally, or, if not found, by leaving a copy thereof, at his/her usual place of abode with a person of suitable age and discretion who shall be informed of the contents thereof, or if the notice is returned showing that it has not been delivered, substitute notice shall be served by sending a copy thereof by certified or registered mail to his/her last known address and posting a copy thereof in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice and by publishing it once each week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in accordance with the rules of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware.
(2) 
A copy of the notice shall be given to the occupant or occupants of the building.
The City Solicitor shall:
A. 
When directed by the City Council, prosecute all persons failing to comply with the terms of any order provided for in this code.
B. 
Appear at all hearings before the Board of Building Appeals in regard to dangerous buildings and prepare written findings of fact for the Board of Building Appeals.
C. 
Bring suit to collect all municipal liens, assessments or costs incurred in repairing or causing to be vacated or demolished any dangerous buildings.
D. 
Take such other legal action as is necessary to carry out the terms and provisions of this code.
A. 
Membership; terms.
(1) 
The Board of Building Appeals shall consist of five members. The City Council shall appoint five members who are residents of the City of New Castle to staggered terms. The terms of the members shall be staggered in the following manner:
(a) 
The first and second appointees shall serve for terms of two years each.
(b) 
The third and fourth appointees shall serve for terms of three years each.
(c) 
The fifth appointee, who shall serve as Chairperson, shall serve for a term of four years.
(2) 
Further, one of the appointees shall be a licensed professional engineer.
(3) 
Any appointment pursuant to the provisions hereof, to replace a member whose position becomes vacant prior to the expiration of that person's term shall be filled only for the remainder of that term.
B. 
Upon the filing of an appeal as set forth herein, the Board shall set a hearing date and hold a hearing within 40 days. At such hearing, the Board shall receive any evidence which the person aggrieved, the Building Official or a complainant may desire to offer, shall make findings and shall render a decision, in writing within 30 days of the date of the hearing. The Board, with a concurring vote of the majority of its members, may affirm, modify, reverse, vacate or revoke the action appealed; provided, however, that the action of the Building Official shall be affirmed by the Board if the action was not arbitrary or capricious and was taken pursuant to law; and provided, further, that the decision of the Board shall not vary the terms of any law, code or ordinance.
C. 
The Board of Building Appeals, subject to approval by City Council, shall have the power to make, revise or rescind such rules as it may deem necessary or appropriate to regulate and govern practice and procedure before the Board and the conduct of the Board's affairs.
The Board of Building Appeals shall:
A. 
Upon receipt of a report from the Building Official as provided for in § 141-8G or upon the written request by any other persons having an interest in the building, give written notice to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building to appear before it on the date specified in the notice to show cause why the building Or structure reported to be a dangerous building should not be repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the statement of particulars set forth in the Building Official's notice.
B. 
Hold a hearing and hear such testimony as the Building Official or the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee or any other person having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County shall offer relative to the dangerous building.
C. 
Make written findings of fact from the testimony offered pursuant to Subsection B of this section as to whether or not the building in question is a dangerous building.
D. 
Issue an order based upon findings of fact made pursuant to Subsection C this section commanding the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County to repair, vacate or demolish any building found to be a dangerous building within the terms of this code, setting the time within which the building shall be repaired, vacated or demolished and provided that any person so notified, except the owners, shall have the privilege of either vacating or repairing the dangerous building; or any person not the owner of the dangerous building but having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County may demolish the dangerous building at his/her own risk to prevent the acquiring of a lien against the land upon which the dangerous building stands by the City as provided for in this code.
E. 
If the owner, occupant, mortgagee or lessee fails to comply with the order provided for in Subsection D of this section within 10 days, the City Council, on the recommendation of the Board of Building of Appeals, shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated or demolished as the facts may warrant, under the standards provided for in § 141-5, and shall, with the assistance of the City Solicitor, cause the costs of such repair, vacation or demolition to be charged against the land on which the building existed as a municipal lien or cause such costs to be added to the tax duplicate as an assessment, or to be levied as a special tax against the land upon which the building stands or did stand, or to be recovered in a suit at law against the owner, provided that in cases where such procedure is desirable and any delay thereby caused will not be dangerous to the health, safety or general welfare of the people of this City, the City Council on the recommendation of the Board of Building Appeals shall notify the City Solicitor to take legal action to force the owner to make all necessary repairs or demolish the building.
F. 
Report to the City Solicitor and City Council the names of all persons not complying with the order provided for in Subsection D of this section.
When any building or structure has been ordered razed and removed, the Building Official may sell the salvage and valuable materials resulting from such razing or removal, and such proceeds of such sale, after deducting the expenses of such razing and removal, shall be promptly remitted with a report of such sale or transaction, including the items of expense and the amounts deducted, for the use of the person who may be entitled thereto, subject to any order of a court. If such a surplus does not remain to be turned over, the report shall so state.
It shall be unlawful for the owner of any building or structure who has received a compliance order or upon whom a notice of violation has been served to sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of such property to another until the provisions of the compliance order or notice of violation has been complied with or until such owner shall first furnish the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee a true copy of any compliance order or notice of violation issued by the Building Official and shall furnish to the Building Official a signed and notarized statement from the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee, acknowledging the receipt of such compliance order or notice of violation and fully accepting the responsibility without condition for making the corrections or repairs required by such compliance order or notice of violation.
In cases where it reasonably appears that there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person unless a dangerous building is immediately repaired, vacated or demolished, the Building Official shall report such facts to the City Council and the Board of Building Appeals, and the Board may cause the immediate repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous buildings shall be collected in the same manner as provided in §§ 141-11E and 141-18.
In cases, except emergency cases, where the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgagee is absent from the City, all notices or orders provided for in this code shall be sent by registered or certified mail to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee and other persons having an interest in such building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County, to the last known address of each, and a copy of such notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the dangerous building to which it relates. Such mailing and posting shall be deemed adequate service.
No officer, agent or employee of the City shall render himself/herself personally liable for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his/her duties under this code, and shall be defended by the City Solicitor until the final determination of the proceedings therein.
The fire marshal, all officers of the police force, and all other employees of the City shall report, in writing, to the Building Official all buildings or structures within the City which shall come to their knowledge or attention as being dangerous or vacant buildings within the terms of this code.
A. 
Whatever expenses incurred in relation to authorized improvements and/or demolition pursuant to this code shall be paid by the City, the owner or owners shall be jointly and severally liable to the City for the full amount so expended. Whenever costs or expenses have been incurred as aforesaid, the expenditure of public funds for improvements to or demolition of any building or structure deemed to be unsafe, following notice to the owners, the costs so incurred, with interest to be levied at a rate of 18% accrued annually from the date of expenditure, shall be reimbursed to the City, on demand, by the person or persons who were the owner or owners of such building or structure at the time such improvement or demolition commenced.
B. 
The City may maintain an action at law in debt against the owner or owners to recover the sums of money so expended, plus interest at a rate of 18% accrued annually, plus court costs and legal fees.
C. 
When the City expends public funds for the purpose of improvements and/or demolition to any vacant building or dangerous building and after such notice has been given, the City may enter a lien for the amount so expended in a lien book maintained by the New Castle County Prothonotary for the Superior Court of the State of Delaware.
D. 
The amount of the lien, which shall be considered a tax lien, shall include the total cost of the improvements and/or demolition, all court costs, all legal fees, and engineering fees, and all interest accrued thereon, on the lands and premises on which such work of improvements and/or demolition was performed.
[Added 10-9-2007 by Ord. No. 451]
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this section requiring the registration of all vacant buildings and the payment of registration fees is to assist the City government in protecting the public health, safety and welfare, to monitor the number of vacant buildings in the city, to assess the effects of the condition of those buildings on nearby homes and/or businesses and the neighborhoods in which they are located, particularly in light of fire safety hazards and unlawful, temporary occupancy by transients, including illicit drug users and traffickers, to require of the owners of such vacant buildings their registration and the payment of related fees, and to promote substantial efforts to rehabilitate such vacant buildings. The provisions of this section are applicable to the owners of such vacant buildings as set forth herein and are in addition to and not in lieu of any and all other applicable provisions of this chapter, the health and sanitation code, and any other applicable provisions of the New Castle City Code.
B. 
Definitions; applicability; registration statement and fees.
(1) 
Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them as follows:
BOARDED
A building or structure subject to the provisions of this section shall be deemed to be "boarded" if, in place of one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door, or of one or more windows, there is a sheet or sheets of plywood or similar material covering the space for such door or window.
EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE AND MAJOR SYSTEMS
The safe and lawful maintenance of the facade, windows, doors, roof, and other parts of the exterior of the building and the maintenance of its major systems consisting of the roof, the electrical and plumbing systems, the water supply system, the sewer system, and the sidewalk and driveway, if any, area of the lot.
OCCUPIED
Any building or structure shall be deemed to be occupied if one or more persons actually conduct a lawful business or reside in all or any part of the building as the licensed business-occupant, or as the legal or equitable owner-occupant or tenant on a permanent, nontransient basis, or any combination of the same. For purposes of this section, evidence offered to prove that a building is so occupied may include, but shall not be limited to, the regular receipt of delivery of regular mail through the U.S. Postal Service; proof of continual telephone, electric, gas, heating, water and sewer services; a valid city business license or the most recent federal, state or city income tax statements indicating that the subject property is the official business or residence address of the person or business claiming occupancy; or proof of prerental inspection.
OPEN
A building or structure subject to the provisions of this section shall be deemed to be "open" if any exterior door other than a storm door is broken, open, or closed but without a properly functioning lock to secure it, or if one or more windows are broken or not capable of being locked and secured from intrusion, or any combination of the same.
OWNER
An owner of the freehold of the premises or any lesser estate therein, a mortgagee, a vendee-in-possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent or any other person, firm or corporation that is directly or indirectly in control of a building subject to the provisions of this section, and as set forth below.
VACANT
A building or structure shall be deemed vacant if no person or business entity actively conducts a lawfully licensed business on a regular basis therein, or if no person lawfully resides or lives on a regular basis therein. A building or structure shall not be deemed vacant for purposes of the application of this section if a person who normally conducts a lawfully licensed business in the building or structure or a person who lawfully resides or lives in any part of the building or structure shall be temporarily absent from the premises for reasons of illness, vacation, military service, sabbatical, compassionate leave or other similar reasons but who intends to return to the premises on the earlier date of one year from the commencement of such absence, or when the reason for such absence terminates. Further, a building or structure shall not be deemed vacant for purposes of the application of this section if the owner or owners thereof promptly present acceptable proof, upon request, that said building is being actively marketed for sale through the ongoing efforts of a licensed real estate broker, that said building is the subject of a current real estate multilisting, that said building is the subject of current published advertisements, or other acceptable evidence of current and ongoing solicitation.
(2) 
Applicability. The requirements of this section shall be applicable to each owner of any building that is not a dwelling that shall have been vacant for more than 45 consecutive days and to each owner of residential property consisting of one or more vacant dwellings that shall have been vacant for more than 45 consecutive days. Each such owner shall cause to be filed a notarized registration statement, which shall include the street address and parcel number of each such vacant building, the names and addresses of all owners, as hereinafter described, and any other information deemed necessary by the City. The registration fees as required by Subsection B(3) of this section shall be billed by the City and shall be paid by January 1 of each year. For purposes of this section, the following shall also be applicable:
(a) 
If the owner is a corporation, the registration statement shall provide the names and residence addresses of all officers and directors of the corporation and shall be accompanied by a copy of the most recent annual franchise tax report filed with the Secretary of State;
(b) 
If an estate, the registration statement shall provide the name and business address of the executor of the estate;
(c) 
If a trust, the registration statement shall provide the name and address of all trustees, grantors and beneficiaries;
(d) 
If a partnership, the registration statement shall provide the names and residence addresses of all partners with an interest of 10% or greater;
(e) 
If any other form of unincorporated association, the registration statement shall provide the names and residence addresses of all principals with an interest of 10% or greater;
(f) 
If an individual person, the registration statement shall provide the name and residence address of that individual person.
(3) 
Registration statement and fees; local agent. If none of the persons listed above is shown at an address within the state, the registration statement shall also provide the name and address of a person who resides within the state and who is authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the owners and who shall be designated as a responsible, local party or agent, both for purposes of notification in the event of an emergency affecting the public health, safety or welfare and for purposes of service of any and all notices or registration statements as herein authorized and in connection herewith. Registration shall be required for all vacant buildings, whether vacant and secure, vacant and open or vacant and boarded, and shall be required whenever any building has remained vacant for 45 consecutive days or more. In no instance shall the registration of a vacant building and the payment of registration fees be construed to exonerate the owner, agent or responsible party from responsibility for compliance with any other building code or housing code requirement. One registration statement may be filed to include all vacant buildings of the owner so registering. The owner of the vacant property as of November 15 of each calendar year shall be responsible for the payment of the nonrefundable registration fee. Said fee shall be billed annually by the City and based on the duration of the vacancy as determined by the following scale:
(a) 
No fee for properties which are vacant for less than one year;
(b) 
For each property which is vacant for at least one year but less than two years: $500;
(c) 
For each property which is vacant for at least two years but less than three years: $1,000;
(d) 
For each property which is vacant for at least three years but less than five years: $2,000;
(e) 
For each property which is vacant for at least five years but less than 10 years: $3,500; and
(f) 
For each property which is vacant for at least 10 years: $5,000 plus an additional $500 for each year in excess of 10 years.
C. 
Retroactivity. This section shall be applied retroactively. Any building which is vacant on the date of the enactment of this section shall be charged such registration fee as is appropriate based upon the length of time which such building or structure has been continuously vacant immediately prior to the date of enactment of this section.
D. 
Appeal rights. The owner shall have the right to appeal the imposition of the registration fees to the Board of Building Appeals upon filing an application, in writing, with the applicable $50 nonrefundable filing fee to the Department of Licenses and Inspection no later than 15 calendar days after the date of the billing statement. On appeal, the owner shall bear the burden of providing satisfactory, objective proof of occupancy.
E. 
One-time waiver of registration fee. A one-time waiver of the registration fee may be granted by the Board of Building Appeals upon application of the owner, if the owner:
(1) 
Demonstrates with satisfactory proof that he/she is in the process of demolition, rehabilitation or other substantial repair of the vacant building; and
(2) 
Objectively demonstrates the anticipated length of time for the demolition, rehabilitation or other substantial repair of the vacant building; or
(3) 
Provides satisfactory proof that he/she was actively attempting to sell or lease the property during the vacancy period.
F. 
Two-year waiver. Upon application by the owner and satisfaction of Subsection E above, the Board of Building Appeals may grant a two-year waiver of the registration fee if the owner meets the criteria for nonprofit organizations as defined by § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
G. 
Delinquent registration fees as a lien. After the owner is given notice of the amount of the registration fee due, except for those owners that have properly perfected an appeal pursuant to Subsection D above, and the owner fails to pay the amount due, said amount shall constitute a debt due and owing to the city and shall constitute a lien in favor of the city against the title to the property, and the city may commence a civil action to collect such unpaid debt.
H. 
Duty to amend registration statement. If the status of the registration information changes during the course of any calendar year, it is the responsibility of the owner, responsible party or agent for the same to contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections within 30 days of the occurrence of such change and advise the Department, in writing, of those changes.
I. 
Exceptions. This section shall not apply to any building owned by the United States, the state, the city, nor to any of their respective agencies or political subdivisions.
J. 
Violations and penalties. The failure or refusal, for any reason, of any owner or agent of an owner acting on behalf of the owner to register a vacant building or to pay any fees required to be paid pursuant to the provisions of this section within 30 days after they become due shall constitute a violation, punishable upon conviction thereof by a fine in the amount of not less than $100 nor more than $500 for each failure or refusal to register, or for each failure or refusal to pay a required vacant building fee, as applicable. In such cases, whenever the minimum fine of $100 is imposed, it shall not be subject to suspension or reduction for any reason.