DCRA continually strives to bring more vacant buildings back to productive use. We send notification letters regarding vacant and blight buildings, respond to complaints to make determinations about building occupancy status, and maintain a complete list of vacant and blight buildings in the District of Columbia.
To learn more about these efforts and results including abatements, inspections, registered, unregistered, and exempt properties, visit the DCRA Performance Dashboard.
Report a Vacant Property
A vacant property is one that is not occupied and does not meet any of the following criteria:
- Is under active construction
- Owner is actively seeking to rent or sell
- Property is subject to a probate proceeding or the title is subject of litigation
- Property is the subject of a pending application for development that requires approval of the Board of Zoning Adjustment, Zoning Commission, Commission on Fine Arts, Historic Preservation Review Board, Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, or National Capital Planning Commission
Report a Blighted Property
A building is blighted if it is unsafe, insanitary, or otherwise determined to threaten the health, safety, or general welfare of the community. In making the determination, DCRA considers the following factors:
- Is the building boarded up
- Are doors, windows, and other openings weather-tight and secured against entry
- Are exterior walls free of holes, graffiti, and rotting material
- Are all exposed metal and wood surfaces protected from decay by paint, or another weather-coating material
- Are all balconies, porches, signs, and similar features safe and sound
Register Your Vacant Property
If your building is vacant, DC Official Code § 42-3131.06 requires that you register it with the Vacant Building Administration within 30 days of the beginning of each fiscal year and within 30 days of it becoming vacant. Failure to register your building can result in civil and/or criminal penalties of $2,000 in fines per violation and up to 90 days imprisonment.
After you receive a notification letter, you must register your property online within 30 days and pay a $250 registration fee. Failure to do so will result in the property owner receiving a Notice of Infraction.
Pay the registration fee, and then visit the Citizen Access portal to register a property as vacant or verify the property is occupied. Property owners may also request a vacant property exemption.
Verify Your Building is Occupied
If you receive a notice from the Vacant Building Administration concerning a vacant or blighted property, and it is occupied:
- Register your building as occupied by completing the Vacant Property Response Form.
- Check the box “My building is occupied” in Step 2.
- Include a water bill and any other utility bills for the period when the building became occupied.
If verified, your tax rate will not change for the applicable fiscal year going forward, and you will receive a confirmation letter from the Vacant Building Administration. If denied, your property will be taxed at the Class 3 rate and you will receive a denial notice with appeal instructions from the Vacant Building Administration.
Apply for a Vacant Building Exemption
It is the responsibility of all property owners to register their Class 3 Vacant property within the first 30 days of the fiscal year or within 30 days of initial notification that their property is Class 3 Vacant. If you receive a notice from Vacant Building Administration concerning a Class 3 vacant designation, click to find out if you qualify for a vacant building exemption. Class 4 blight properties are not eligible.