Code of the District of Columbia

§ 42–3131.06. Registration of vacant buildings.

(a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, the owner of a vacant building shall maintain the building in compliance with the requirements of § 42-3131.12 and, within 30 days after it becomes a vacant building, register the building with the Mayor, and pay the registration fee. The Mayor, in his sole discretion, may extend the time for good cause.

(a-1)(1) After the initial designation of a property as vacant or blighted, the Mayor shall not be required to perform additional inspections or surveys to sustain that classification.

(2) After the Mayor has made a final determination that a building is a vacant building or blighted vacant building, that final designation shall remain in effect until the property owner submits information to the Mayor sufficient to warrant a change to that classification.

(a-2)(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, no person except the owner of record or an authorized agent of the owner of record, with proof of authorization from the owner of record, may register a building as vacant.

(B) The Mayor, upon a showing that the owner of record is physically unable to register the property, may allow a relative of the owner of record to register the building as vacant; provided, that the relative can show proof of being a relative and, to the satisfaction of the Mayor, that the owner of record is physically unable to register the property.

(2) This subsection shall not in any way limit the Mayor's authority to register as vacant or blighted any property whose owner fails to register it as required by this chapter.

(3) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(A) "Owner of record" means the person or persons named in the public record as the title holder of a real property.

(B) "Relative" means a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or the sibling's child, spouse, or domestic partner.

(b) A vacant building shall not be included on the list compiled pursuant to § 42-3131.16 or subject to the registration fee pursuant to § 42-3131.09 if it is:

(1) Owned by the government of the United States or its instrumentalities;

(2) Owned by a foreign government or its instrumentalities;

(3) Under active construction or undergoing active rehabilitation, renovation, or repair, and there is a building permit to make the building fit for occupancy that was issued, renewed, or extended within 12 months of the required registration date; provided, that the time period for this exemption beginning from the date the initial building permit was issued shall not exceed:

(A) One year for a residential building; provided, that a residential building is eligible to continue to be exempt for an additional 6 months, for a total period not to exceed 18 months, if the Mayor determines that the residential building continues to be under active construction or undergoing active rehabilitation, renovation, or repair and substantial progress has been made toward making the building fit for occupancy; or

(B) Two years for a commercial project;

(3A) Repealed.

(4) In compliance with the requirements of § 42-3131.12 and the housing regulations of the District of Columbia and the owner or his agent has been actively seeking in good faith to rent or sell it; provided, that:

(A) The time period for sale or rent shall not exceed:

(i) One year from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement of sale in the case of residential buildings;

(ii) Two years from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement of sale in the case of commercial buildings; or

(iii) One year from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement to rent; and;

(B) Any leased property exempt under this paragraph shall have a valid certificate of occupancy;

(5)(A) Exempted by the Mayor in extraordinary circumstances and upon a showing of substantial undue economic hardship.

(B) The exemption may be granted for a period not to exceed 12 months from the required registration date, subject to renewal on the basis of continuing extraordinary circumstances and substantial undue economic hardship. The Mayor may withdraw the exemption at any time. Any exemption shall be published in the District of Columbia Register.

(6) Repealed.

(7) For a period not to exceed 24 months, the subject of a probate proceeding or the title is the subject of litigation (not including a foreclosure of the right of redemption action brought under Chapter 13A of Title 47 [§ 47-1330 et seq.]);

(8) For a period not to exceed 12 months, the subject of a pending application for a necessary approval for development before the Board of Zoning Adjustment, the Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia, the Commission on Fine Arts, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, the Department of Public Works, or the National Capital Planning Commission; or

(9) Located on the Water Reed Redevelopment Site, for so long as the building and the land on which the building sits is subject to the ground lease to the Developer.

(c) If a vacant building is owned by the District of Columbia or its instrumentalities, it shall be subject to the registration requirements in subsection (a) of this section and the maintenance requirements in § 42-3131.12, but shall not be subject to the fee requirements under subsection (a) of this section or the fines and penalties collected under § 42-3131.10.

(d) If a present interest in a vacant building registered under this chapter is transferred or otherwise conveyed, a deed shall not be recorded by the Recorder of Deeds until a new registration is filed with the Mayor and the applicable fees and any unpaid taxes assessed against the property are paid.

(e) If the name or address of an owner of a vacant building changes for any reason other than by transfer or conveyance, the change shall be reported to the Mayor in writing within 30 days in the manner provided in § 42-405(b-1).

(f)(1) The cumulative time period for exemption from registration and fee requirements for a vacant building under the same, substantially similar, or related ownership shall not exceed 3 real property tax years.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, any exemption shall be terminated at the end of the 2007 real property tax year if the building under the same, substantially similar, or related ownership benefited from an exemption under this section or under § 47-813(c-6) during 3 or more real property tax years.

(3) The limitations set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection shall not apply to vacant buildings that benefit from the exemption under subsection (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section.

(4) A vacant building benefiting from an exemption under this section or § 47-813(c-6)(2)(C) or (c-6)(3)(C), on December 27, 2006, shall continue to benefit from the exemption and shall not be required to register or pay fees for the duration permitted under those provisions; provided, that the exemption shall not be valid after September 30, 2007; provided further, that the vacant building may qualify for an exemption in effect after December 28, 2006 and subject to the time restriction and exclusion set forth in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection.

(g) The total cumulative time for any exemption granted to any property shall not exceed 5 years in any 12-year period, excluding exemptions granted under subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section.

(h) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2 [§ 2-501 et seq.], may issue rules to implement the provisions of this chapter. The rules may include a schedule of fines for violations of this chapter.


(Apr. 14, 1906, 34 Stat. 115, ch. 1626, § 18; Apr. 14, 1906, 34 Stat. 115, ch. 1626, § 6; as added Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-281, § 101, 48 DCR 1888; Oct. 18, 2005, D.C. Law 16-23, § 2(a), 52 DCR 8078; Aug. 15, 2008, D.C. Law 17-216, § 3(c), 55 DCR 7500; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2042(b), 57 DCR 6242; May 18, 2016, D.C. Law 21-119, § 8, 63 DCR 4678; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-200, § 2(a), 63 DCR 15038; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-213, § 2, 63 DCR 15330; Mar. 22, 2019, D.C. Law 22-254, § 2(a), 66 DCR 1335.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3131.09, § 42-3131.10, § 42-3131.14, and § 47-813.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-23, in subsec. (b)(3), substituted “and if there is a valid building permit that was issued within 60 days of the required registration date;” for “and if there is a valid building permit that was issued within 60 days of the required registration date; provided, that the scope of the permit is not limited to electrical or plumbing work; provided further, that this exemption shall not exceed one year from the date of issuance of the first building permit for rehabilitation, renovation or repair;”; and, in subsec. (b)(4), substituted “the owner or his agent has been actively seeking to rent or sell it;” for “the owner or his agent has been actively seeking to rent or sell it; provided, that the time period for sale or rent shall not exceed one year from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement of sale, or 90 days from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement to rent;”.

D.C. Law 17-216 rewrote the section.

D.C. Law 18-223 rewrote subsecs. (b) and (h).

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 22-254: § 5 of D.C. Law 22-254 provided that the change made to this section by § 2(a) of D.C. Law 22-254 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-586, December 28, 2006, 54 DCR 353).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-173, November 2, 2007, 54 DCR 11204).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-436, July 16, 2008, 55 DCR 8272).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2042(b) of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 8 of the Walter Reed Development Omnibus Emergency Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-349, Mar. 23, 2016, 63 DCR 4628).

Temporary Legislation

Section 3(c) of D.C. Law 16-259, in subsec. (b), in par. (4), substituted “8 months” for “one year from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement of sale, or 90 days from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement to rent”; and amended pars. (3) and (5), and added pars. (6), (7), (8), and (9) to read as follows:

“(9) For a period not to exceed 12 months, owned by a qualifying nonprofit housing organization under D.C. Official Code § 47-3505(a).” In subsec. (e), substituted “30 days in the manner provided in section 499d(b-1) of An Act To establish a code of law for the District of Columbia, effective October 23, 1997 (D.C. Law 14-282; D.C. Official Code § 42-405(b-1)).” for “30 days”; and added subsecs. (f) and (g) to read as follows:

“(4) A vacant building benefitting from an exemption under this section or D.C. Official Code § 47-813(c-6)(2)(C) or (c-6)(3)(C), immediately preceding the effective date of the Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Temporary Amendment Act of 2006, passed on 2nd reading on December 19, 2006 (Enrolled version of Bill 16-1036), shall continue to benefit from the exemption and shall not be required to register or pay fees for the duration permitted under those provisions; provided, that the exemption shall not be valid after September 30, 2007; provided further, that the vacant building may qualify for an exemption in effect after the effective date of the Nuisance Properties Abatement Reform and Real Property Classification Temporary Amendment Act of 2006, passed on 2nd reading on December 19, 2006 (Enrolled version of Bill 16-1036), and subject to the time restriction and exclusion set forth in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection.

“(5) For purposes of this subsection, ownership shall be related if a deduction for a loss from the sale or exchange of properties between taxpayers would be disallowed under section 267 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved August 16, 1954 (68A Stat. 78; 26 U.S.C. § 267); provided, that the exclusion under section 267(a)(1) for a loss in a distribution in a complete liquidation shall not apply.

“(g) The Mayor shall issue proposed rules to implement the provisions of this title on or before June 30, 2007. The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed disapproved.”

Section 7(b) of D.C. Law 16-259 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 3(c) of D.C. Law 17-102, in subsec. (b), in par. (4), substituted “8 months” for “one year from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement of sale, or 90 days from the initial listing, offer, or advertisement to rent”, and amended pars. (3) and (5) and added pars. (6), (7), (8), and (9) to read as follows:

“(3) Under active construction or undergoing active rehabilitation, renovation, or repair, and there is a valid building permit to make the building fit for occupancy that was issued, renewed, or extended within 12 months of the required registration date;”

“(5) Exempted by the Mayor in his or her sole discretion; provided, that the exemption may be withdrawn upon notice in the same manner as if the building were designated as vacant under section 11;

“(6) Occupied at the time of a fire, flood, or other casualty which occurred within the preceding 12 months and which was not intentionally caused by the owner;

“(7) For a period not to exceed 24 months, the subject of a probate proceeding or the title is the subject of litigation (not including a foreclosure of the right of redemption action brought under Chapter 13A of Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code);

“(8) For a period not to exceed 12 months, the subject of a pending application for a necessary approval for development before the Board of Zoning Adjustment, the Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia, the Commission on Fine Arts, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, or the National Capital Planning Commission; or

“(9) For a period not to exceed 12 months, owned by a qualifying nonprofit housing organization under D.C. Official Code § 47-3505(a).”; in subsec. (e), substituted “30 days in the manner provided in section 499d(b-1) of An Act To establish a code of law for the District of Columbia, effective October 23, 1997 (D.C. Law 14-282; D.C. Official Code § 42-405(b-1))” for “30 days”; and added subsecs. (f) and (g) to read as follows:

“(f)(1) The cumulative time period for exemption from registration and fee requirements for a vacant building under the same, substantially similar, or related ownership shall not exceed 3 real property tax years.

“(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, any exemption shall be terminated at the end of the 2007 real property tax year if the building under the same, substantially similar, or related ownership benefitted from an exemption under this section or under D.C. Official Code § 47-813(c-6) during 3 or more real property tax years.

“(3) The limitations set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection shall not apply to vacant buildings that benefit from the exemption under subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(5) of this section.

“(4) A vacant building benefitting from an exemption under this section or D.C. Official Code § 47-813(c-6)(2)(C) or (c-6)(3)(C), immediately preceding March 8, 2007, shall continue to benefit from the exemption and shall not be required to register or pay fees for the duration permitted under those provisions; provided, that the exemption shall not be valid after September 30, 2007; provided further, that the vacant building may qualify for an exemption in effect after March 8, 2007, and subject to the time restriction and exclusion set forth in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection.

“(5) For the purposes of this subsection, ownership shall be related if a deduction for a loss from the sale or exchange of properties between taxpayers would be disallowed under section 267 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved August 16, 1954 (68A Stat. 78; 26 U.S.C. § 267); provided, that the exclusion under section 267(a)(1) for a loss in a distribution in a complete liquidation shall not apply.

“(g) The Mayor shall issue proposed rules to implement the provisions of this act on or before June 30, 2007. The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed disapproved.”

Section 7(b) of D.C. Law 17-102 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.