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Department of Buildings
DOB
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Welcome to the Department of Buildings

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Vacant Buildings

DOB continually strives to bring more vacant buildings back to productive use. We send notification letters regarding vacant and blighted buildings, respond to complaints to make determinations about building occupancy status, and maintain a complete list of vacant and blighted buildings in the District of Columbia.

To learn more about these efforts and results including abatements, inspections, registered, unregistered, and exempt properties, visit the DOB Agency Performance Dashboard. To learn if your property is currently classified as vacant or blighted, please view our Vacant Building Map.


4,200+

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confirmed vacant buildings since October 2021.
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Nearly 100%

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of initial inspections for vacant buildings completed within 30 days of a complaint.
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Almost 8,000

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vacant property initial inspections conducted.
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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, DOB 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?

Report a Vacant/Blighted Property

 

Vacant building in DC

Pay Online

Pay online for vacant or blight registration using DOB's payment portal. You may also pay with a check. Checks must be made out to the DC Treasury and mailed to the Department of Buildings, Attn: Office of Residential Inspections.

 

Register Your Vacant Property

If your building is vacant, DC Official Code § 42-3131.06 requires that you register it with the Office of Residential Inspections 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.

Register Your Vacant Property

 

Verify Your Building is Occupied

If you receive a notice from the Office of Residential Inspections 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 Office of Residential Inspections. If denied, your property will be taxed at the Class 3 rate and you will receive a denial notice with appeal instructions from the Office of Residential Inspections.

Verify Your Building is Occupied

 

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 the Office of Residential Inspection 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.

Your first step in the application process is to ensure you do not have any debt owed to DOB. To check this, please visit the Enforcement section of our DOB Agency Performance Dashboard. Search by address and name of the applicant and property owner. If you have debt indicated, please email us at [email protected] with the debt information to receive payoff information. If your search results seem to indicate that you do not have debt owed to us, please still email us to confirm.

Request Exemption for Vacant Property