Vacant Building Registration Program
The City of Fort Madison adopted this program in 2022 to address the vacant buildings in city limits. These vacant properties become dilapidated and then become burdens as far as crime, police attention and fire. The program is part of the city’s effort to clean up its image and will help stem to the pattern of properties sitting idle and becoming nuisances.
VACANT BUILDING: A building or fifty percent (50%) or more of a building as measured by total square footage of all floors above grade and including previously habitable below grade spaces that are unoccupied and meets one or more of the following conditions:
- Records of the Lee County Recorder show the property is in lien foreclosure;
- Windows or entrances to the building are boarded up or closed off, or one or more doors or windows are broken and unrepaired;
- Doors to the building are damaged, smashed through, caved in, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
- The building is without gas, electric, or water service;
- Trash service has been discontinued;
- Water service fails to use a minimum of one hundred (100) gallons per month;
- Rubbish, trash, putrescible materials or debris has accumulated on the property;
- Law enforcement agencies have received at least two reports of trespass, vandalism or other illegal acts being committed on the property within 12 months;
- The yards on the property exhibit grass, lawn, weeds, and other vegetation which are not maintained to a minimum as required by code or to the standards prevailing in the neighborhood.
- The structure meets any or all of the criteria which would support an action by the City under Iowa Code 657A.10B to obtain title to the property.
The owner of any building that has become vacant shall, within ninety (90) days after the building becomes vacant or within thirty (30) days after assuming ownership of a building that has already been vacant for sixty (60) days, whichever is later, file a registration statement for each such building on forms provided by the city's building department. The registration and provisions of this section shall remain in effect for that period the building remains vacant.
Properties in foreclosure shall further be required to file registration paperwork within thirty (30) days of filing a “Notice of Default” or “Intent to Foreclose” with the District Court.
Registration shall include:
- A description of the premises; address, including legal description or parcel number;
- The names, addresses and contact phone number(s) for all the owner(s), owner's authorized agent(s) and mortgage lender's account service representative(s);
- The names, addresses and contact phone number(s) of all known lienholders and all other interested parties;
- If the owner and authorized agent does not reside in Lee County, Des Moines County, Henry County, Van Buren County in Iowa, Hancock, Henderson County in Illinois, or Clark County Missouri, the name, address and contact phone number of a person designated to act on behalf of an out-of-town owner(s) shall be submitted, to accept legal process and notices, and to authorize repairs as required (a letter/emailed form from the legal owner(s) is required to assign a designee). Said designee shall reside in Lee County;
- A list of all other persons allowed to be on the property;
- The Owner shall execute an authorization appointing the Fort Madison Police Department an agent of the Owner for the purpose of making a demand to depart therefrom pursuant to Fort Madison Section 7-2-11: CRIMINAL TRESPASS. (Ord. D-87, 5-3-2022)
HOW TO REGISTER:
Along with the registration fee, documents below need to be included in the registration of each vacant building:
The owner of any building that has become vacant shall:
- Notify the office of the Building Official of any changes to the information provided in the registration or to the plan of action if one exists within thirty (30) days after making the changes. (examples: change of address, change of local contact designee or deciding to make repairs for occupancy rather than leave vacant or other changes as specified in the plan of action is one is submitted.)
- Secure all buildings on the premises.
- Maintain all buildings in a secure and closed condition until the building is again occupied or legally razed.
After filing a registration statement, the building owner shall provide access to the city, at the city's request, to conduct an exterior and interior inspection of the building to determine compliance with this section.
- Minimum Maintenance Standards: A vacant building shall be considered adequately maintained if:
- Doors, windows, and other openings are weather-tight and secured against entry by birds, vermin, and trespassers. Broken or missing doors and windows shall be replaced with like materials. Boarding up of doors and windows shall not be considered an appropriately secured.
- The roof, gutters and flashing are sound and tight, will not admit moisture, vermin, or birds into the structure, and properly drain to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior and in a manner that does not create a public nuisance.
- The interior and exterior shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound, free from debris, rubbish, yard waste, garbage, and sanitary so as not to threaten public health or safety.
- The structural members are free of deterioration and capable of safely bearing imposed dead and live loads
- The foundation walls are free from open cracks and breaks, and vermin-proof.
- The exterior walls are free of holes, breaks, and loose or rotting materials, and exposed metal and wood surfaces are protected from the elements and against decay or rust by periodic application of weather-coating materials, such as paint.
- All balconies, decks, stairways, cornices, belt courses, corbels, terra cotta trim, wall facings, and similar decorative features are safe, anchored, and in good repair, and exposed metal and wood surfaces are protected from the elements and against decay or rust by periodic application of weather-coating materials, such as paint.
- Any plumbing fixtures, including those used for operation of lawn sprinkling system, shall be maintained with no leaking pipes, and all pipes for water shall either be completely drained, winterized, or heated to resist freezing.
- All existing fire detection and suppression systems in commercial and industrial buildings must remain intact and fully operational unless modification and/or decommissioning is authorized by the Building Official.
- Sidewalks, stairways, and driveways are free from hazardous conditions and safe for pedestrian travel including but not limited to removal of snow and ice within twelve (12) hours of a precipitation event.
- Accessory and appurtenant structures such as garages, sheds, and fences are free from safety, health, and fire hazards and are secured.
- The property on which a structure is located must be safe and clean from junk, debris, trash, rodents, weeds, and tall grass. It shall be kept sanitary so that it does not threaten the public's health or safety in any way.
- Every owner shall be responsible for the extermination of insects, rodents and other vermin in or about the premises.
- Graffiti shall be removed as soon as possible and within seven (7) days of notification of the defacement. (Ord. D-87, 5-3-2022)
All buildings registered in the Vacant Building Registration Program shall be inspected by the Building Official within twelve (12) months of registration in the program. Yearly inspections by the City shall be made to ensure continued compliance. If in the event the property passes inspections without violations on two (2) successive yearly initial inspections, the property would be allowed a grace period of two (2) years with the follow up City inspection on year three (3) from the most recent initial inspection. Subsequent passed third year inspections would allow for continued City inspections every third year. If at any inspection the building(s) fail(s) to pass minimum maintenance standards, yearly inspections will be required until the building(s) pass(es) inspections for two (2) successive years. Any year a City inspection is not required the owner must submit a self-performed inspection log.
Monthly inspections shall be performed by the owner or the owner's designee to ensure the required minimum maintenance standards are being met and said person shall keep a detailed log of findings upon inspection and repairs completed post inspection. If inspection logs are submitted as checked monthly and maintained but do not match the Building Officials records of hazards or failure to maintain, the owner shall accrue a fee for failure to secure and maintain.
Copies of monthly logs shall be submitted to the office of the building official annually at the time of registration. If a property is sold, the new owner must acquire the log of previous inspections from the seller and submit them with registration.
If a building is found to be maintaining a violation of the minimum maintenance standards by the Building Official, the owner shall be given thirty (30) days to correct the violations. The Building Official may grant an extension based on the severity of work to be completed, provided the structure will not continue to deteriorate during the time allotted. If the owner fails to make adequate repairs within the time allotted, the procedure for failure to secure and maintain shall be followed.
The Building Official is authorized and directed to inspect any buildings and premises located within the City of Fort Madison for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with this Chapter, with the inspection to include only those items which can be inspected by lawful means. In the event the Building Official has reason to believe that a Code violation may exist within a building, he or she is authorized and directed to inspect the remainder of the building and premises. The owner of every building may, upon request of the Building Official, give the Building Official complete access to the building and premises at reasonable times for the purpose of inspection. In the event access to the premises is refused, the Building Official with the assistance of the City Attorney may obtain an administrative search warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction in order to gain access to the premises. (Ord. D-87, 5-3-2022)
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Building Department:
Mackenzie Nafziger Doug Krogmeier
(319) 372-7700 x 214 (319) 372-770 x 212