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Vacant Property Registration

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Vacant Residential Buildings and Dwellings Must be Registered

Properties that have been abandoned and are allowed to become overgrown, and those whose structures are left open and unsecured, not only have a negative impact on community value, but also create conditions that invite criminal activity and foster an environment that is unsafe and unhealthy for our community. It is for these reasons that abandoned properties must be maintained so as not to create these nuisance conditions.

In an effort to curtail the growing problem of abandoned and neglected properties, the City of Fort Lauderdale has enacted an Ordinance that requires lenders to register these properties with the City's Code Compliance division.

On October 2, 2012, the City Commission passed Ordinance C-12-38 requiring institutions holding mortgages in default on properties that have become abandoned to register these properties with the City of Fort Lauderdale as part of a registration program for abandoned residential property.

The registration program for abandoned residential property insures communication between the lender and the City with respect to any potential or existing code enforcement violations and provides the City contact information for the service provider or property preservation firm retained by the lender to abate such violations. This will not only help to preserve property values, but will also insure the health, safety, and general welfare of neighborhoods in which these properties exist.

Ordinance C-12-38 highlights:

  • Mortgagees of abandoned residential real property holding a mortgage that is in default must register the property.
  • The Mortgagee is required to provide the City with, among other things, the name and contact telephone number of the service provider or local property management company responsible for the maintenance of the property.
  • The Mortgagee is responsible for posting a sign on the property, clearly visible from the street, containing the same contact information.
  • The Mortgagee pays an annual registration fee of two-hundred dollars ($200) dollars per property.
  • The Mortgagee, or designee, must inspect the abandoned property on a bi-weekly basis and to correct certain code violations, which may exist.

The Department of Sustainable Development - Code Compliance Division contracted with Community Champions (formerly known as the Federal Property Registry Corporation) to manage the registry. A website has been set up at http://cchampions.com/ for all lenders/vendors to comply with the Ordinance. Questions can be e-mailed to FortLauderdale@vacantregistry.com.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

DISCLAIMER: The answers below are intended to provide guidance for commonly asked questions. However, these answers do not cover every scenario and do not replace the adopted provisions of Ordinance C-12- 38, which controls the administration of the program.

Do commercial, industrial, or institutional properties have to register?
No. Only residential buildings or dwellings must register, such as a single‐family home, a duplex, a multi‐family building (apartment).

I own and occupy a singlefamily house. Do I have to register?
No. Only vacant residential buildings or dwellings must register.

I own a singlefamily house which is currently occupied by tenants. Do I have to register?
No. Only vacant residential buildings or dwellings must register.

My residential property is occupied but is in default with my mortgagor, do I have to register?
The Mortgagee, or designee, must inspect the property monthly until either the default is remedied or is found to be vacant or shows evidence of vacancy at which time it is deemed an abandoned dwelling, the mortgagee shall, within ten (10) days of the inspection, register the property.

I own an apartment complex with multiple buildings containing multiple dwelling units. Some buildings are completely vacant. Other buildings are fully or partially occupied. Do I have to register all or some of the buildings?
If a building containing multiple dwelling units with common ownership has at least one unit occupied, no registration of that building is required. However, each building containing multiple dwelling units with common ownership, all of which are vacant, must be registered.

I own a singlefamily house that is for sale, but has been vacant for more than a month. Do I have to register?
Yes. Regardless of "for sale" status, the mortgagee of any residential dwelling that is vacant must register the property within 10 days of inspection.

When do I register?
Registration began on February 4, 2013.

Where do I go to register?
You can register and pay the registration fee online at http://cchampions.com/

How much does it cost to register?
The registration fee is $200 per vacant residential building.

I own a vacant singlefamily house with a detached garage/shed. Do I have to register and/or pay an additional $200 fee for the garage/shed?
No. There is no registration fee for accessory structures.

Once I register, how long does the registration last?
Twelve months from the registration date.

At the end of the twelvemonths, must I register again and pay a new fee?
Yes, you must file a renewal registration for successive twelve‐month periods as long as the residential building remains vacant at the time of renewal and pay $200 to renew the registration of the property.

I previously registered my vacant residential building but it is now occupied. What do I do?
If at any time during the twelve‐month registration period the residential building becomes occupied, the owner must file an amended registration statement within five days of occupancy notifying the http://cchampions.com/ of such occupancy and requesting removal from the registry. The office will remove the building from the registry within 30 days of the filing of the amended registration statement unless it has reason to believe the building is vacant.

I recently acquired a building for which a registration statement was filed by the previous owner five months ago. Must I do anything?
Yes. As the new owner, you must file an amended registration statement, at no cost, and provide new ownership information and any other information that has changed from the initial registration statement.

I am the owner that filed the original registration statement but my contact and/or agent information has changed. Must I do anything?
Yes. You must file an amended registration statement, at no cost, within 10 days of the change in the information provided in the initial registration statement.

Once I register, is there anything else I have to do for the next twelve months with respect to the vacant residential building?
Yes. Within 10 days of registration, you must secure the building from unauthorized entry in accordance with the housing Code standards; post a sign affixed to the building indicating the 24-hour contact name, address and telephone number of the owner and the owner’s authorized agent; maintain the building in a secure and closed condition and maintain any legal signage until the building is again occupied. However, compliance with these requirements of Ordinance C-12-38 does not excuse compliance with other applicable code requirements, such as the City of Fort Lauderdale Code of Ordinances.

What does “vacant” mean?
Evidence of vacancy shall mean any condition that on its own or combined with other conditions present, would lead a reasonable person to believe that the property is vacant. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to. overgrown or dead vegetation; stagnant and unsanitary pool water; nonfunctioning electric, water or gas utilities; accumulation of abandoned personal property; statements by neighbors, passers-by, delivery agents or government agents; or any other evidence that the property is vacant.

What does "abandoned dwelling mean"?
Abandoned dwelling shall mean any residential building or structure which is a vacant dwelling and is under a current Notice of Default or Notice of Mortgagee's Sale by lender or trustee for lender or a pending Tax Assessor's Lien Sale or subject of a foreclosure sale when the title was retained by the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under deed in lieu of foreclosure or sale.

What does "foreclosure" mean?
Foreclosure shall mean the process by which a property placed as security for a real estate loan is sold at public sale to satisfy the debt upon a default by the borrower.

What does "mortgagee" mean?
Mortgagee shall mean the creditor including, but not limited to service companies, lenders in mortgage agreement, trustees, and any agent, servant, or employee of the mortgagee or any successor in interest or assignee of the mortgagee's rights, interest, or obligations under the mortgage agreement.

What does "owner" mean?
Owner shall mean any person, persons, or entity having legal or equitable title, or any real or contingent interest in any real property; being shown to be the property owner in the records of the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office; being identified on the abandoned real property registration form pursuant to the Ordinance C-12-38; or being a mortgagee in possession of real property. Any such person, persons, or entity shall have joint and several obligations for compliance with the provisions of Ordinance C-12-38.

What does "property management company" Mean?
Property management company shall mean a local property manager, property maintenance company, or similar person or entity responsible for maintenance and security of Abandoned Dwellings.

Who may I call for additional information?
You may contact the Department of Sustainable Development's Code Compliance Division at 954-828-5207.