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Tool 1: Vacant Property Registration Ordinances

Tool 1: Vacant Property Registration Ordinances (VPROs)

The purposes of a vacant property registration ordinance (VPRO) are threefold:

  • To ensure that owners of vacant properties are known to the city and other interested parties and can be reached if necessary;
  • To ensure that owners of vacant properties are aware of the obligations of ownership under relevant codes and regulations; and
  • To ensure that owners meet minimum standards of maintenance of vacant properties.


In addition, the fee structure established in the ordinance may serve additional purposes, including covering costs incurred by the municipality to deal with vacant properties, and under some circumstances, motivating owners to restore and reuse vacant properties.


A vacant property registration ordinance should include the following elements:

  • A clear definition of which properties and which parties must register;
  • The registration requirements and procedures, including the information required of the owner or lienholder;
  • The fee structure;
  • The obligations of the owner, with respect to maintaining the property; and
  • The penalties for failing to register in timely fashion.


Go to Tool 2  for a discussion of the effect of different fee structures on owner behavior


Using the information from registration forms, the city should create a vacant property registry. The registry should be accessible on line, and should provide a means by which individuals can report unregistered vacant properties to the city. 


Hundreds of cities, counties and towns in the United States have enacted VPROs.

Go  to a directory of ordinances, with links to the individual ordinances

Go to Tool 2: Motivating Owners to Use Properties