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Vacant Property Registration

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Vacant Property Registration Program

Properties that have been abandoned and allowed to become overgrown, or structures left open and unsecured, not only have a negative impact on community value, but also create conditions that invite criminal activity and foster an environment that is unsafe and unhealthy for our community. It is for these reasons that abandoned properties must be maintained so as not to create these nuisance conditions.

To curtail the growing problem of abandoned and neglected properties, the City of Fort Lauderdale has enacted an Ordinance that requires lenders to register these properties with the City's Code Compliance division.

On October 2, 2012, the City Commission passed Ordinance C-12-38 requiring institutions holding mortgages in default on properties that have become abandoned to register these properties with the City of Fort Lauderdale as part of a registration program for abandoned residential property.

The registration program for abandoned residential properties ensures communication between the lender and the City with respect to any potential or existing code enforcement violations. It also provides the City contact information for the service provider or property preservation firm retained by the lender to abate such violations. This will not only help to preserve property values, but will also ensure the health, safety, and general welfare of neighborhoods in which these properties exist.

Ordinance C-12-38 highlights:

  • The Mortgagee of an abandoned residential real property, holding a mortgage that is in default, must register the property.
  • The Mortgagee is required to provide the City with, among other things, the name and contact telephone number of the service provider or local property management company responsible for the maintenance of the property.
  • The Mortgagee is responsible for posting a sign on the property, clearly visible from the street, containing the same contact information.
  • The Mortgagee pays an annual registration fee of two-hundred dollars ($200) dollars per property.
  • The Mortgagee, or designee, must inspect the abandoned property on a bi-weekly basis and correct any code violations which may exist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

DISCLAIMER: The answers below are intended to provide guidance for commonly asked questions. However, these answers do not cover every scenario and do not replace the adopted provisions of Ordinance C-12- 38, which controls the administration of the program.

Q: When do I register?
A: Registration must be completed upon default by the mortgagor, after confirmation of the vacancy status.  

Q: How much does it cost to register?
A: The registration fee is $200 per vacant residential building.

Q: How do I register a vacant property?
A: The Department of Sustainable Development's Community Enhancement & Compliance Division has a Vacant Property Registration application that is available to complete and submit online. Questions can be e-mailed to VRegistry@fortlauderdale.gov

Q: How do I pay for my registration?
A: After submitting your registration form, you will be invoiced for your payment of $200.00. If an invoice is not paid within 30 days, the property is liable to be cited and/or have code cases opened for any violations present.

Q: Once I register, how long does the registration last?
A: Registration lasts for twelve months from the registration date.

Q: At the end of the twelve‐months, must I register again and pay a new fee?
A: Yes, you must file a renewal registration for successive twelve‐month periods if the residential building remains vacant at the time of renewal. The renewal fee will be $200.

Q: Once I register, is there anything else I must do for the next twelve months with respect to the vacant residential building?
A: Yes. Within 10 days of registration, You must secure the building from unauthorized entry in accordance with the housing Code standards. A sign must be affixed to the building indicating the 24-hour contact name, address and telephone number of the owner and the owner’s authorized agent. The property must also be inspected on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the property is in constant compliance. Please see Ordinance C-12-38, Sec. 18-12.2, Sec. 18-12.3 and Sec 18-12.4 for specific details of the requirements.

Q: I previously registered my vacant residential building, but it is now occupied. What do I do?
A: If at any time during the twelve‐month registration period the residential building becomes occupied, the owner must file an amended registration statement within five days of occupancy notifying the City of Fort Lauderdale of such occupancy and requesting removal from the registry. The office will remove the building from the registry within 30 days of the filing of the amended registration statement unless it has reason to believe the building is vacant.

Q: Do commercial, industrial, or institutional properties have to register?
A: No. Only residential buildings or dwellings must register, such as a single‐family home, a duplex, a multi‐family building (apartment).

Q: I own and occupy a single‐family house. Do I have to register?
A: No. Only vacant residential buildings or dwellings must register.

Q: I own a single‐family house which is currently occupied by tenants. Do I have to register?
A: No. Only vacant residential buildings or dwellings must register.

Q: My residential property is occupied but is in default with my mortgagor. Do I have to register?
A: The Mortgagee, or designee, must inspect the property prior to the issuance of a notice of default to determine if the property is vacant or shows evidence of vacancy. If it is deemed an abandoned dwelling, the mortgagee shall, within ten (10) days of the inspection, register the property.

Q: I own an apartment complex with multiple buildings containing multiple dwelling units. Some buildings are completely vacant. Other buildings are fully or partially occupied. Do I have to register all or some of the buildings?
A: If a building containing multiple dwelling units with common ownership has at least one unit occupied, no registration of that building is required. However, each building containing multiple dwelling units with common ownership, all of which are vacant, must be registered.

Q: I own a single‐family house that is for sale, but has been vacant for more than a month. Do I have to register?
A: Yes. Regardless of "for sale" status, the mortgagee of any residential dwelling that is vacant must register the property within 10 days of inspection.

Q: I own a vacant single‐family house with a detached garage/shed. Do I have to register and/or pay an additional $200 fee for the garage/shed?
A: No. There is no registration fee for accessory structures.

Q: I recently acquired a building for which a registration statement was filed by the previous owner five months ago. Must I do anything?
A: Yes. As the new owner, you must file an amended registration statement, at no cost, and provide new ownership information and any other information that has changed from the initial registration statement.

Q: I am the owner that filed the original registration statement, but my contact and/or agent information has changed. Must I do anything?
A: Yes. You must file an amended registration statement, at no cost, within 10 days of the change in the information provided in the initial registration statement.

Q: Who may I call for additional information?
A: You may contact the Department of Sustainable Developments Community Enhancement &  Compliance Division by calling 954-828-5207 or by email at VRegistry@fortlauderdale.gov.

 

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