Vacant Building Strategy Review

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This review is now closed.

The report and recommendations for this review were adopted by City Council on June 08, 2022. The new Vacant Property By-law will come into force on November 1, 2022.

As a result, owners of buildings and lands that have been vacant for 120 consecutive days will need to obtain a yearly vacant property permit while their property remains vacant, and meet the following requirements:

  • Provide current contact information for the owner and any property manager
  • Maintain liability insurance as prescribed in the by-law
  • Attend their vacant properties at least once every two weeks to identify and resolve issues on site, and keep records of these activities
  • Post a contact notice on their vacant building with a contact phone number for inquiries and complaints from the public
  • Enclose their vacant building or land, or part of it, when directed by the City in order to prevent unauthorized access or uses
  • Report any known hazardous conditions to the City
  • Comply with the City’s by-laws, including the Property Standards By-law, Property Maintenance By-law, and the Board Up By-law.

The permit regime will address buildings that are entirely vacant and wholly unoccupied, including a vacant dwelling unit of a semi-detached or townhouse dwelling, where all of the building’s lawful occupants have moved out or left. In addition, it will address vacant lands, other than greenspace lands or legally authorized parking lots, with no buildings and not devoted to the practice of farming.

The cost of a permit will be $1,703 per year, including taxes/admin fee. Refunds of 50 per cent of the permit fee will be provided if the vacant building or vacant land is re-occupied within three months of permit issuance. For vacant lots and blocks within new subdivision developments, the cost to the owner (developer/builder) is $1,703 per year for each subdivision plus $28.25 for each individual lot or block.

Principal residences do not require a vacant property permit. This means that owners who live at the property but who may be absent due to vacations, work, or for other reasons will not be required to obtain a permit. Seasonal properties such as cottages as well as rural zoned properties will also be exempted, except for those in rural villages or with heritage status. Where properties have become vacant due to a catastrophic event such as a fire, when the owner has died, or where the owner’s principal residence is vacant because the owner has moved into a care facility, the permit fees will be waived for two years.

More information on how to apply for a permit, applicable fees and exemptions, and other key requirements and issues will be available shortly.

Additional measures to be implemented include:

Background

Emergency and Protective Services conducted a review of the City of Ottawa’s 2013 Vacant Building Strategy. This strategy introduced a proactive inspection and enforcement regime for vacant buildings and lots, with the aim of reducing community nuisance and public health and safety issues for these properties.

Under the 2013 strategy, the City:

  • Established specific property standards for vacant buildings and lots
  • Implemented a Vacant Building List to track properties
  • Dedicated one Property Standards Officer to conduct proactive inspections, with the aim of inspecting all properties twice annually.

When the strategy was introduced, there were approximately 95 vacant properties known to the City; but by 2020, that number had grown to approximately 220. This increase is challenging the ability of By-law and Regulatory Services to conduct regular inspections and follow-up enforcement when necessary.

City Council has asked staff to consider options to:

  1. Reduce community nuisance issues related to vacant properties
  2. Reduce the time properties remain vacant
  3. Support the Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan
  4. Improve pest control
  5. Provide cost recovery for administration and enforcement

Emergency and Protective Services conducted research into promising practices from other jurisdictions and consulted with other City departments, owners of vacant properties, and community and industry associations on new regulations for vacant properties.

Members of the public with questions or comments are invited to contact the project team at bylawreviews@ottawa.ca. or 613-580-2424 Ext. 29529.

Please note that this review is separate from the Residential Vacant Unit Tax project led by the Financial Services Department, addressing a new property tax class for individual vacant residential units. The Vacant Building Strategy Review is intended to address community nuisance and public health and safety concerns caused when entire buildings and lots become vacant.

This review is now closed.

The report and recommendations for this review were adopted by City Council on June 08, 2022. The new Vacant Property By-law will come into force on November 1, 2022.

As a result, owners of buildings and lands that have been vacant for 120 consecutive days will need to obtain a yearly vacant property permit while their property remains vacant, and meet the following requirements:

  • Provide current contact information for the owner and any property manager
  • Maintain liability insurance as prescribed in the by-law
  • Attend their vacant properties at least once every two weeks to identify and resolve issues on site, and keep records of these activities
  • Post a contact notice on their vacant building with a contact phone number for inquiries and complaints from the public
  • Enclose their vacant building or land, or part of it, when directed by the City in order to prevent unauthorized access or uses
  • Report any known hazardous conditions to the City
  • Comply with the City’s by-laws, including the Property Standards By-law, Property Maintenance By-law, and the Board Up By-law.

The permit regime will address buildings that are entirely vacant and wholly unoccupied, including a vacant dwelling unit of a semi-detached or townhouse dwelling, where all of the building’s lawful occupants have moved out or left. In addition, it will address vacant lands, other than greenspace lands or legally authorized parking lots, with no buildings and not devoted to the practice of farming.

The cost of a permit will be $1,703 per year, including taxes/admin fee. Refunds of 50 per cent of the permit fee will be provided if the vacant building or vacant land is re-occupied within three months of permit issuance. For vacant lots and blocks within new subdivision developments, the cost to the owner (developer/builder) is $1,703 per year for each subdivision plus $28.25 for each individual lot or block.

Principal residences do not require a vacant property permit. This means that owners who live at the property but who may be absent due to vacations, work, or for other reasons will not be required to obtain a permit. Seasonal properties such as cottages as well as rural zoned properties will also be exempted, except for those in rural villages or with heritage status. Where properties have become vacant due to a catastrophic event such as a fire, when the owner has died, or where the owner’s principal residence is vacant because the owner has moved into a care facility, the permit fees will be waived for two years.

More information on how to apply for a permit, applicable fees and exemptions, and other key requirements and issues will be available shortly.

Additional measures to be implemented include:

Background

Emergency and Protective Services conducted a review of the City of Ottawa’s 2013 Vacant Building Strategy. This strategy introduced a proactive inspection and enforcement regime for vacant buildings and lots, with the aim of reducing community nuisance and public health and safety issues for these properties.

Under the 2013 strategy, the City:

  • Established specific property standards for vacant buildings and lots
  • Implemented a Vacant Building List to track properties
  • Dedicated one Property Standards Officer to conduct proactive inspections, with the aim of inspecting all properties twice annually.

When the strategy was introduced, there were approximately 95 vacant properties known to the City; but by 2020, that number had grown to approximately 220. This increase is challenging the ability of By-law and Regulatory Services to conduct regular inspections and follow-up enforcement when necessary.

City Council has asked staff to consider options to:

  1. Reduce community nuisance issues related to vacant properties
  2. Reduce the time properties remain vacant
  3. Support the Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan
  4. Improve pest control
  5. Provide cost recovery for administration and enforcement

Emergency and Protective Services conducted research into promising practices from other jurisdictions and consulted with other City departments, owners of vacant properties, and community and industry associations on new regulations for vacant properties.

Members of the public with questions or comments are invited to contact the project team at bylawreviews@ottawa.ca. or 613-580-2424 Ext. 29529.

Please note that this review is separate from the Residential Vacant Unit Tax project led by the Financial Services Department, addressing a new property tax class for individual vacant residential units. The Vacant Building Strategy Review is intended to address community nuisance and public health and safety concerns caused when entire buildings and lots become vacant.

Page last updated: 02 Aug 2022, 01:44 PM