On December 2, 2019, the West Hollywood City Council approved Ordinance No. 19-1090 establishing new property maintenance and vacant property standards, including creating a Vacant Property Registration Program. These new requirements became effective on January 2, 2020.
Ordinance 19-1090 eliminated the vacant property standards found in Chapter 7.24 and Section 19.30.030.O and strengthened and consolidated them under the newly established Chapter 9.64 (Vacant Properties) of the West Hollywood Municipal Code.
What is a vacant property?
“Vacant Property” is defined as any property that is substantially vacant, unoccupied, or abandoned for more than forty-five (45) days, and where construction, pursuant to an active building permit, is not taking place or where an inspection by the Building and Safety Division, pursuant to an active building permit, has not been conducted within the previous ninety (90) days.
A property is NOT vacant as long as 25% or more of the units on the property are occupied by tenants or resident caretakers.
What are my responsibilities as an owner of a vacant property?
Vacant properties are required to be maintained and secured in a manner that will prevent the property from becoming a nuisance to the community. These standards can be found by visiting Chapter 9.64 of the West Hollywood Municipal Code.
- Property Exterior: Groundcover, landscaping, and vegetation are healthy and well maintained. Vegetation is not interfering with overhead utility lines or pedestrian use of the public right-of-way. Groundcover is not overgrown, hedges are trimmed in a manner allowing visibility to the interior of the property, and any dead or dying vegetation has been removed. The property is free of trash, debris, or discarded equipment and vehicles.
- Structure Exterior: Roof, chimney, foundation, stairs, and decks are reasonably free of decay (e.g., severe cracks, soft spots, loose pieces, deterioration, or other indications that repair is needed); maintained in a safe, sound, and sanitary condition; and capable of withstanding normal loads and forces. The building and its components, including windows, should be reasonably weatherproof and free of dampness.
- Structure Interior: Walls, floors, stairs, and other structural components are reasonably free of decay, maintained in a safe and sound condition, and capable of withstanding normal loads and forces. Natural lighting and ventilation are adequate and maintained in good working order for each habitable room in the unit.
- Security and Safety: A current Letter of Agency is on file with the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station. All structures have been secured and, if applicable, properly boarded using polycarbonate. Adequate security lighting and video surveillance have been installed. A fence may also be required per the approval of the Director and maintained in good working condition.
Complete and submit the Vacant Property Registration Form.
Pay all required fees.
How does the vacant property registration program work?
All vacant properties will be inspected by Code Enforcement Officers and LA County Sheriff's Deputies. Upon performing the walk-through, each property will be given one of four (4) designations:
- Stable - These properties are well-maintained and can easily be converted back to their intended use.
- At-Risk - At-Risk properties are maintained to a lesser degree than Stable properties but can be converted back to their intended use with minimal or minor repairs. Transients may have entered the property but likely not the structures.
- Problematic - Problematic properties are falling into disrepair but can be converted back to its intended use with some substantial repairs. Structures are not unsafe, but there is likely evidence of intrusion into the structures.
- Failed - Failed properties are generally not maintained and pose significant risks to the community. Structures are likely unsafe from a structural perspective.
The property designation will determine the fees owed by the vacant property owner to cover the inspection costs incurred by the City. The following is the fee schedule for vacant properties:
- Stable - No fees are due for any Stable property that has never been given another vacant property designation.
- Stable - $740.00 (Payable on July 1 of each year)
- At Risk Properties - $2,220.00 (Payable on July 1 of each year)
- Problematic Properties - $4,440.00 (Biannual payments of $2,220.00 due on July 1 and January 1 of each year)
- Failed Properties - $8,880.00 (Quarterly payments of $2,220.00 due on July 1, October 1, January 1, and April 1 of each year)
A property may move up or down through the various classifications based on the level of compliance with WHMC 9.64 observed by a Code Enforcement Officer. If a property moves from a lower classification to a higher one, the fees owed would be equal to the higher classification fee. Inversely, if a property is moved to a lower classification, the fees owed would match those required by the lower classification.
What if I disagree with the designation given to my property?
In order to have the current vacant property registration fee owed on a property reviewed and potentially reassessed, a property owner shall complete the following:
- Make the required corrections; and
- Request a site inspection at least two (2) weeks prior to the due date of the current vacant property registration fee.
If the required corrections are made after the due date for the current vacant property registration fee, no review or potential reassessment will be made and payment will be in accordance with the existing assigned classification fee.
What standards are being used to evaluate the designation of each property?
The Vacant Property Registration Packet includes an overview of the vacant property program as well as a checklist with the items that the Code Enforcement Officer will look for. We encourage you to use the checklist to make sure that all of the items on the checklist are compliant with the standards found in the City's municipal code.
Can I request a waiver or modification of the vacant property standards?
Yes. Included in the Vacant Property Registration Packet is a waiver/modification request. Please complete this form and submit it to the Code Compliance Division. For each waiver or modification, please identify how the granting of the request will not impact the health, safety, or welfare of the community. Requests will only be granted as long as the general health, safety and welfare are not negatively impacted. Approvals may be granted on a permanent or temporary basis and may be conditional.
What if I still have questions?
If you do have any questions or concerns about the vacant property standards or the registration program, please contact the Code Compliance Division at 323-848-6375.