Avoid Vacant Building Problems

One of the best ways to avoid problems with vacant buildings is to keep them from becoming vacant. At SDCI we’ve seen an increasing number of homes and other structures go vacant while applicants wait for their development permits to be issued. We’ve also seen an increasing number of these structures broken into by trespassers, and frequently squatters occupy the buildings. Boarding up the doors and windows and fencing the site can become a huge expense, and frequently the break-ins continue, which requires you to board the structure again. We see frequent evidence of drug use in these structures, with used syringes and other hazards left behind. It paints a costly picture.

If you are about to enter the redevelopment permitting process, we encourage you to talk with us about options for keeping existing tenants in the building until just before your permits are ready to issue. If your building has rental housing units, our Property Owner and Tenant Assistance group can help you navigate the tenant relocation process so that the timing of your move out notices coincides with your permitting schedule. You can reach the POTA group by calling our main Code Compliance number at (206) 615-0808.

Sometimes when you acquire a property, it is already vacant. If the structure is in good shape, you might consider working with a group like Weld Seattle or Mary’s Place. These non-profit organizations can sometimes place residents in your buildings. The residents may be members or guests or caretakers under the umbrella of the non-profit. The building must be in a livable condition, and Weld Seattle can work on timelines as short as six months. Mary’s place usually looks for longer-term placements, but has options for many different kinds of buildings. Learn more about Mary’s Place and check out Weld Seattle.

Council Discussion on Proposed Code Amendments for Vacant Buildings

On July 18th, the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee will discuss and potentially vote on proposed legislation that would update provisions for the maintenance and demolition of vacant buildings. The proposed amendments the Housing and Building Maintenance Code (Title 22) and the Land Use Code (Title 23) would:

  • Strengthen standards for securing vacant buildings
  • Establish an expedited process for removal of garbage and other debris from sites with vacant buildings
  • Establish an expedited process for demolition of hazardous vacant buildings
  • Reduce the amount of time that a building on a site in the development permitting process must remain vacant prior to demolition


Meeting Details
Tuesday, July 18
9:30 a.m.

Seattle City Council Chambers
City Hall, 2nd floor
600 Fourth Avenue

Find more information on the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee’s meetings. Learn more about SDCI’s proposal on our project webpage.