[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hagerstown 12-19-2006 by Ord. No. O-06-33; amended in its entirety 9-30-2014 by Ord. No. O-14-19. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to promote and assure public safety, health and welfare, to prevent deterioration of vacant residential structures in the City of Hagerstown, to support property values, and to encourage responsible management and use of vacant residential structures through licensing and inspections.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ACTIVE WORK
- Regularly ongoing modifications to bring a structure up to
code and which involve two or more systems, including but not limited
to constructing, enlarging, altering, moving, demolishing, erecting,
installing, removing, converting or replacing any electrical, plumbing,
or mechanical system. "Active work" also includes modifications to
the structure itself.[Added 10-25-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-20]
- BLIGHTED CONDITION
- A condition is blighted when it exhibits objectively determinable signs of deterioration sufficient to constitute a threat to human health, safety and public welfare.
- City of Hagerstown, Maryland.
- The Community and Economic Development Department of the City.
- A. Any person, partnership, association, company, corporation or other entity having a legal or equitable interest in or control of real property.
- B. Any person who, alone, jointly or severally, shall have the charge, care or control of any premises as executor, administrator, trustee or guardian of the estate of the owner.
- C. Any person having any interest in a partnership, association, company, corporation or other entity which owns or has any ownership interest or control of the premises.
- D. Any person, firm, partnership, association, company, corporation or other entity whose name appears on the deed or property tax bill for the premises shall be deemed to be the owner of the premises.
- Any single parcel or lot of real property in the City, including the land and all improvements or structures, upon which a vacant residential structure or vacant blighted residential structure is located.
- Not occupied as a domicile or residence.
- VACANT BLIGHTED RESIDENTIAL STRUCTURE
- Any residential structure, single- or multi-unit, that is vacant with a pending action to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust; or is vacant with blighted conditions; or has been placarded by the City as uninhabitable. For properties with multiple structures, such as apartment complexes, if any individual structure meets this definition, that structure shall be subject to the terms of this chapter.
- A. Any residential structure, single or multi-unit, that has been vacant for a continuous six-month period. For properties with multiple structures, such as apartment complexes, if any individual structure is vacant for a continuous six-month period, that structure shall be subject to the terms of this chapter. For calculation of the continuous six-month period required to satisfy the definition of "vacant residential structure," the following periods of time shall not be included:
- (1) The one-year period immediately following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy permit for new construction;
- (2) Any period of time during which active work is being legally performed pursuant to a valid permit issued by the City;
- (3) The six-month period immediately following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy permit for existing construction; or
- (4) The first year of vacancy of a nonblighted structure while being marketed via a currently licensed real estate agent through Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
- B. A vacant residential structure shall not include a structure that falls within the definition of a nonresidential structure pursuant to Chapter 232 of the City Code.
[Amended 10-25-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-20]
It shall be unlawful for the owner(s) of any vacant residential structure or vacant blighted residential structure to fail to apply for and obtain a vacant residential structure license and abide by the inspection requirements contained in this chapter.
In addition to the inspection requirements of § 233-5 of this chapter, an applicant for a vacant residential structure license shall provide the following information for each vacant residential structure or vacant blighted residential structure on the appropriate application form provided by the Department.
The address of the vacant structure;
The number of dwelling units contained in the structure;
The name, street, address and telephone number of all owners of the vacant structure;
If the owner of the vacant residential structure is not an individual, the applicant shall provide the name, street address, resident agent, resident agent address and telephone number;
The name, street address and telephone number of a designated contact person for the owner(s);
A certificate of property insurance in the amount equivalent to or greater than the assessed tax value; and
Payment for said license shall be due in full from the owner within 30 days from the application mailing. Failure to remit payment in full may result in collection pursuant to Article III, Tax Liens, § 223-11, of the City Code, or by other civil proceeding.
When a vacant blighted residential structure is purchased by a bona fide purchaser for value who promptly registers the structure in the vacant structures program in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, the license fee may be refunded if the owner is issued building permits for comprehensive renovation of the structure within six months of purchase.
[Added 10-25-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-20]
In connection with the application requirements contained in § 233-4 of this chapter, the exterior of the vacant structure shall be inspected at the time of initial application and on an annual basis thereafter. Required reinspections for noted conditions shall be as directed by the Department.
All inspections conducted hereunder shall be conducted by the Department and shall be performed to ensure compliance with all applicable property maintenance, fire and other City codes for vacant, unoccupied structures and § 233-6 of this chapter.
In the event that any noted violations are not corrected at the time of the reinspection requested by the owner or the owner's agent, or the premises is not safely accessible, the Code Official may impose a reinspection fee as established by the City of Hagerstown's fee schedule for each additional visit for the same violation.
[Added 10-25-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-20]
In addition to the inspection requirements of § 233-5 of this chapter, an owner of a vacant residential structure or vacant blighted residential structure shall maintain the structure to the following neighborhood standards, which are based on crime prevention through environmental design.
Exterior lighting is not required at any entry door where streetlighting meets the minimum illumination level required by this section.
All windows shall have lift and slide protection.
All shrubbery, hedges, trees or similar vegetation shall be maintained so that a clear view of the entry doors from the public sidewalk or street is not impeded.
Upon receipt of a completed application form and full payment of the appropriate fee, the Department shall, within 30 days, issue a license for the subject vacant residential structure or vacant blighted residential structure, unless such license is or was denied, suspended or revoked pursuant to § 233-8 hereof. Said license shall expire on its anniversary date, and shall be renewable annually, with application for said renewal being made at least 60 days prior to the expiration date of the then-current license. License renewal shall be made on the form provided by the Department.
A vacant residential structure license may be denied, revoked or suspended at any time by the Department if, after receipt of a notice of violation, the owner fails to eliminate violations of the applicable code sections (including § 232-6) identified during any inspection within the time ordered in the notice. Denial, revocation or suspension of a vacant residential structure license shall be in addition to, and not in substitution of the penalties provided for in § 233-10 of this chapter. Said denial, revocation or suspension may be appealed within 20 days pursuant to Chapter 10 of the Code to the Board of Technical Appeals.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any provision of this chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, such invalidity shall not effect the other provisions or applications of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
In addition to the sanctions outlined in § 233-8 hereof, any owner violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a municipal infraction and subject to a fine of up to $500. Each day a structure is not in compliance with this chapter shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation.