Commercial Vacant Structure License FAQ

What properties need to be licensed?

The Code of the City of Hagerstown, Chapter 232, states that any non-residential structure located in the City of Hagerstown is required to be licensed if it meets one of the following definitions:

· Vacant Non-Residential Structure - Any non-residential structure that is vacant for a continuous six (6) month period. For properties with multiple structures, such as shopping centers with PAD sites, if any individual structure is vacant for a continuous six (6) month period, that structure shall be subject to this requirement.

· Vacant Blighted Non-Residential Structure - Any non-residential structure that is vacant with a pending action to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust; or is vacant with a blighted condition (a condition that exhibits objectively determinable signs of deterioration sufficient to constitute a threat to human health, safety, and public welfare); or has been placarded by the City as uninhabitable. For properties with multiple structures, such as shopping centers with PAD sites, if any individual structure meets this definition, that structure shall be subject to this requirement.

Why is licensing required?

In order to ensure the safety of first responders and emergency personnel, as well as the health and safety of the general public and to support property values within the City, vacant structures within the corporate limits of the City of Hagerstown must be licensed and regularly inspected.

How long is the license valid?

One year. We will send you a license renewal form each year before the anniversary date, as long as you own the structure and it remains vacant. Please contact the office if you sell the property or it is no longer vacant.

Are any vacant non-residential structures exempt from being licensed?

Yes. For the calculation of the continuous six (6) month period required to satisfy the definition of a Vacant Non-Residential Structure, the following periods of time shall not be included:

1. The one (1) year period immediately following the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for new construction.
2. Any time period during which active work is being legally performed pursuant to a valid permit issued by the City.

What is included in the inspection?

Interior inspections are limited to the vacant portion(s) of the structure to assure compliance with all applicable property maintenance, fire, and other City codes for unoccupied structures. Inspectors will be examining the general interior, attic & basement, plumbing, mechanical systems, and fire protection, with a focus on ensuring the structure is safe and sound and will not present a danger to any responding emergency personnel. The building exterior is checked to ensure that doors and windows of a vacant structure are securely closed to prevent unauthorized entry and that the owner maintains the structure enough to ensure there is minimal negative economic effect on the neighborhood. A full checklist of all items included in an inspection is available from Planning and Code Administration.

Are there any additional maintenance requirements?

Yes. In addition to meeting the inspection requirements noted above, an owner of a Vacant Non-Residential Structure or Vacant Blighted Non-Residential Structure shall maintain the structure to the following standards, which are based on the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.
A. Exterior lighting at all entry doors.
1. Shall be illuminated from dusk to dawn
2. Shall be directed downward and away from adjoining premises
3. Shall maintain one foot candle of light measured at one foot above the ground to a minimum distance of twenty feet from the center of any entry door.
a. Exterior lighting is not required at any entry door where street lighting meets the minimum illumination level of this section.
B. All entry doors shall have engaged deadbolt locks.
1. Doors not capable of deadbolt locks shall be secured in an approved manner
C. All exterior sliding doors shall have lift and slide protection.
D. All windows shall have lift and slide protection.
E. All shrubbery, hedges, trees, or similar vegetation shall be maintained so that a clear view of the entry doors from the public sidewalk or street is not impeded.

How often are inspections conducted?

The exterior will be inspected annually. The interior of a vacant non-residential structure will be inspected in accordance with the following schedule:

Vacant Non-Residential Structures - At first renewal and annually thereafter
Vacant Blighted Non-Residential Structures - At initial application and on an annual basis thereafter