Following a March 4, 2019 referral to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, S1155 was reported from the Committee and given a 2nd Reading.

To view the current text of the proposed bill, please click here.

Synopsis: Requires registration of certain vacant and abandoned properties with municipalities and provides enforcement tools related to maintenance
of these properties.

This bill requires the responsible party for a vacant and abandoned property to register the property with the municipality in which the property is located. The bill also provides certain enforcement tools related to the maintenance of these properties.

Specifically, the bill establishes a registration requirement for all vacant and abandoned residential and commercial properties. A property would be considered vacant and abandoned if it is not legally occupied by a mortgagor or tenant for residential or business purposes, it cannot be legally reoccupied, and at least two conditions which indicate abandonment exists. The title holder or mortgage lender responsible for maintaining a property would be required to register the property.

Under the bill, a municipality may establish a fee of not more than $250 for the initial registration of a vacant and abandoned property. Thereafter, a municipality may impose a renewal fee of not more than: (1) $500 if there is an outstanding property maintenance or code violation that remains unabated at the time of renewal; or (2) $750 if there continues to be a violation or there is a new violation that remains unabated at the time of renewal. However, if a greater fee for the registration or renewal of a vacant and abandoned property was established by a municipal ordinance adopted prior to the enactment of the bill, then the bill permits the municipality to continue to impose and collect that greater fee.

The bill also authorizes a municipality to require responsible parties for vacant and abandoned properties to undertake certain protective measures regarding these properties. Specifically, a municipality would be able to require a responsible party to enclose and secure the property against unauthorized entry, post a sign on the property with pertinent contact information, and maintain liability insurance.

Additionally, the responsible party would be liable to pay a penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 for a violation of the bill or any ordinance adopted pursuant thereto. If a greater penalty for these violations was established by a municipal ordinance adopted prior to the enactment of the bill, that greater penalty may continue to be imposed and collected. Each day
that a violation continues would constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense.