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Philadelphia has established robust regulations to address the maintenance and security of vacant properties to preserve public safety and community standards. The Property Maintenance Code – Vacant Premises mandates strict upkeep of these properties to prevent them from becoming hazards. This article overviews the essential aspects of the code, including inspection schedules, maintenance requirements, and the necessity of obtaining vacant property licenses.


Please note that DAWGS does not provide legal advice. Our services are focused on helping you secure and maintain your vacant properties in compliance with local ordinances.

Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code – Vacant Premises.

According to this code, vacant properties shall be adequately maintained to not affect public safety. Hence, the owner of any vacant property shall maintain the building in a clean, safe, secure, and sanitary condition, keeping the interior and exterior free of garbage and debris. In addition, it is crucial to ensure a good roof state and that doors and windows are properly secured. 

Property inspections are to be conducted within fifteen (15) days of acquiring them and at least once every two weeks to determine whether the vacant property complies with the code.

This Vacant Premises section also requires the designation of a property manager. Suppose the owner of the vacant property does not live in the city. In that case, an authorized agent shall be appointed to perform inspections and take any necessary action to ensure the proper state of the building. 

Additionally, the code insists that the owners register their properties with the Department no later than five days after the transfer of ownership.

Penalties and fines may be imposed if the proprietary of vacant premises does not comply or fails to correct the conditions specified in the Department’s notice within the required time.

Philadelphia Requires Vacant Property Licenses

Owning a vacant property comes with specific responsibilities to ensure community safety and maintain neighborhood standards. If you have a vacant residential property, obtaining a Vacant Residential Property License is mandatory. This license allows the City to monitor unoccupied homes, ensuring they do not become hazards or eyesores.

Similarly, commercial property owners must acquire a Vacant Commercial Property License under certain conditions:

  • The property has been vacant for more than three months.
  • There is no ongoing or planned construction work.
  • The property includes a pier with structural elements partially or completely submerged along the Delaware River, Schuylkill River, or connected estuaries.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) oversees the issuance of these licenses, playing a crucial role in the enforcement of city regulations and the promotion of public safety.

City-owned properties for purchase in Philadelphia

Some City-owned properties are available for purchase. You can find the needed information here.

Bottom Line

Complying with Philadelphia’s Property Maintenance Code and licensing requirements for vacant properties is crucial for maintaining the city’s safety and aesthetic standards. Regular inspections, proper maintenance, and timely registration help prevent vacant properties from becoming detrimental to the community. Property owners who adhere to these regulations contribute to the overall well-being of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. For those interested in purchasing city-owned properties or seeking further information, Philadelphia provides comprehensive resources to assist in these processes. Together, we can ensure that Philadelphia remains a vibrant and secure place to live.

You can find information about other cities and their Vacant Property Ordinances below:

Ensure your vacant properties are secure and compliant with local ordinances. 

Philadelphia secured by DAWGS vacant property security

Contact DAWGS today for expert assistance in maintaining and securing your vacant properties following Philadelphia’s Property Maintenance Code. Our team is dedicated to helping you meet all safety and maintenance standards to keep your property and community safe. Get a quote now to learn how we can support your vacant property needs.