Home Grown

Policy and governance

Vacant Structure Registration Ordinance

Mount Prospect

Goal

To bring vacant, noncomplying properties up to Village code to reduce neighborhood blight and instability.

Target

Vacant noncomplying properties.

Financing

Vacant structure registration, violation and nuisance fees.

Successes

About 20 noncomplying properties are brought into compliance each year.

Lessons learned

More aggressive enforcement of vacant properties has led to more stable property values despite foreclosure challenges. As a result, the Village has been able to generate buy-in and support from residents and landlords.

Program background

Even before the housing downturn in 2008, Mount Prospect was experiencing the negative effects that unmaintained vacant properties can have on neighborhood safety, real estate values and village resources. As a result of these challenges, the Village introduced its Vacant Structure Registration Ordinance in 2006. The ordinance holds owners accountable for vacant properties that, uncared for, are costly and cumbersome for the Village to maintain.

While many municipalities require all vacant properties to be registered, Mount Prospect only requires noncomplying structures to register. Inspectors are assigned specific areas of responsibility, and residents often take a proactive approach and report problem areas to Village staff.

How it works

Every property found to be noncompliant is served with a code violation notice with a “cure date” that serves as a cutoff for corrective action. On average, Mount Prospect registers 20 buildings per year, all of which are required to pay a $500 per year registration fee. With the registration application, property owners must include a statement of intent with a timeline for rehabilitation or demolition, and how they plan to adequately maintain the property and avoid future violations.

Responsible parties that do not take corrective action before the date issued are subject to a $50 per day fee for each violation, in addition to a $50 per day nuisance fee. If further inaction persists, the Village can take steps to abate the property (usually at an average cost of $800), which would then be placed as a lien on the property.

The Village has recovered a high percentage of their abatement costs since the ordinance was created and, combined with registration fees and penalties, has created a self-sustaining and effective program. Using transfer stamps ensures collection of any outstanding fines and fees and incentivizes corrections of outstanding violations. Since most distressed properties in Mount Prospect are being transferred to new owners through short sales, debts to the Village are repaid in a timely manner. The new buyer assumes responsibility for fixing any violations they have inherited, and often works with Village staff to establish an agreement that will bring a property into compliance. Owing to the strict enforcement of the ordinance, Mount Prospect has never had to register a property for more than one year.

Contact

Department of Community Development, Village of Mount Prospect
847-818-5328, comdevdept@mountprospect.org, www.mountprospect.org

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