Vacant Structure License FAQ

What properties need to be licensed?

Per the Code of the City of Hagerstown, Chapter 232, any non-residential structure that is vacant for a continuous six (6) month period; or a mixed-use structure located in the City Center Mixed-Use (CCMU) zoning district and having one or more vacant non-residential uses on the first floor. 

Per the Code of the City of Hagerstown, Chapter 233, any residential structure, single or multi-unit, that has been completely vacant for a continuous six (6) month period; or is vacant with pending action to foreclose on a mortgage or deed of trust; or is vacant with blighted conditions; or has been placarded by the City as uninhabitable is deemed to be a vacant residential structure and must be licensed. 

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 inspected annually.   

How long is the license valid?


Vacant non-residential and  residential structure licenses are good for 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 our office if you sell the unit or it is no longer vacant by emailing or calling 301-739-8577 ext. 101. 

Are any vacant structures exempt from being licensed?


Yes.  For the calculation of continuous six (6) month period required to satisfy the definition of Vacant Non-Residential or Vacant Residential Structure, the following period 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 valid permit issued by the City. 

3.     The six (6) month period immediately following the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for existing construction. 

4.     The first year of vacancy of a non-blighted structure being marketed via a Maryland licensed real estate agent. 

5.     For non-residential mixed-use structure with shell condition space located on the first floor in CCMU Zoning district. 

What is Active Work? 


Active work is regularly ongoing modifications to bring a structure up to code and which involve two or more systems/permits, including but not limited to construction, enlarging, altering, moving, demolishing, erecting, installing, removing, converting or replacing any electrical, plumbing, or mechanical system.  Active Work also includes modifications to the structure itself through an issued building permit. 

What is Shell Condition for Vacant Non-Residential Structures?


A mixed-use structure with a vacant non-residential use located on the first floor space compliant with the shell condition space standards policy adopted by the Mayor and City Council as amended time to time. 

What is included in the inspection?


The exterior and interior of the vacant structure shall be inspected on an annual basis. The interior inspection is 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.  The interior inspection will identify any life safety items (structural issues, missing stairs, open floors, live wires, blocked egress, etc.) in the event a first responder would have to enter the property for an emergency.  The exterior will be 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 complete checklist of items to be inspected is available from Planning and Code Administration. 

How often are inspections conducted?


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

Vacant Non-blighted Structures - At first renewal and annually thereafter

Vacant Blighted Structures - At initial application and on an annual basis thereafter

What happens if I fail to register my vacant structure?

Any owner violating the provisions of this City Code shall be guilty of a municipal infraction and subject to a fine of up to $500.00.  Each day a structure is not in compliance with the code shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation.