New vacant building rules proposed for PTC

Owners must register, pay $200 fee, maintain property interior and exterior

Inspection and re-inspection fees have been dropped from a Peachtree City staff proposal to require all vacant homes and buildings to be registered with the city.

Owners of such properties, both residential and commercial, will still have to pay an annual $200 fee to the city when registering their structure, under the revised proposal that will be discussed by the City Council Thursday night.

The ordinance also requires broken windows to be repaired or replaced within 14 days of the property owner being notified, and windows may not be boarded up for longer than 14 days.

The ordinance also requires that any vacant structure found to be out of compliance with city, state or federal regulations shall be brought into compliance within 30 days of the owner being notified.

Also, owners of vacant buildings will have to file and comply with a maintenance structure plan that details:
• How the property will be secured from unauthorized entry at all times;
• How the exterior of the home and lawn/landscaping will be maintained;
• How any pools, hot tubs, spas and associated fences will be maintained; and
• How the structure will be winterized including pest control, broken pipes, mold and other considerations.

That plan, and the $200 fee, must be submitted to the city within 30 days from the time the structure meets the criteria for being deemed vacant: that the building has not been occupied by a tenant, owner or similar party for 14 or more consecutive days within a period of 90 days or more.
Multi-unit or multi-family buildings can be declared vacant if they are no more than 50 percent occupied for the same time frame.

The ordinance spells out that owners of vacant buildings can be fined for failure to provide information per the ordinance, providing false information on the registration form or vacant structure maintenance plan or for failing “to perform an act required by this chapter.”

Each offense can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000 under the proposed ordinance, according to city staff.

Once a vacant property is entered into the system, it will be periodically inspected by city staff including the building official who will determine if the structure is sound or needs repair.

Under the ordinance, the structure cannot be considered vacant if it is being used for storage as long as storage is a permissible use in the zoning district and it complied with all city ordinances, building codes and fire codes.

Other exceptions to the vacant home ordinance include:
• A structure hat has a city building permit in issued status for remodel and/or repair;
• A vacant structure that is being actively marketed for sale or lease by a broker or owner who is regularly advertising the property; or
• A vacant structure that is under contract for sale or lease.

Staff removed language that would declare a home vacant if it was on the market or was under contract for sale or lease for more than 12 months.
Interim Community Development Director David Rast has said the ordinance allows the city to help protect property values and also keep a closer watch on vacant homes. The information will be forwarded to the police and fire departments and the vacant properties will also be monitored periodically by other city staff including the code enforcement department, staff has said.