Vacant Building Registration Program

The City of Fort Madison adopted this program in 2022 to address the vacant buildings in city limits. The purpose of this program is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our citizens by requiring the registration of all vacant property and the payment of an annual registration fee in order to monitor, inspect and record the condition of vacant property. The city hopes this program will help prevent properties from sitting idle and becoming nuisances, while also preserving properties and reducing fires, life safety hazards and unlawful activities such as vandalism and temporary occupancy by transients.

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 twelve (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 – complete a Registration Form for each such building on the forms provided by the City's Building Department. The registration and provisions of this section shall remain in effect for the 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 or Van Buren County (Iowa); Hancock County or Henderson County (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 (Assign or Change Designee Form below). 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)


To register a vacant property for the first time, please complete the Vacant Building Registration Form below and submit along with your registration fee to the Building Department. Every year thereafter, please submit your Inspection Log as well.

Vacant Building Registration Form

Assign or Change Designee

Minimum Maintenance Standards (Inspection Checklist)

Inspection Log


Request for Exemption Form


The owner of any building that has become vacant shall:

  • Notify the office of the Building Official of any changes to the information provided on the registration form 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, deciding to make repairs for occupancy rather than leave vacant, or other changes as specified in the plan of action - if one is submitted, etc.)
  • 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 registering your property, the property 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 the Minimum Maintenance Standards.



  • 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)

Vacant Ordinance Opens in new window

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Building Department:

Kenzie Nafziger                                  Doug Krogmeier

(319) 372-7700 x 214                           (319) 372-770 x 212

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