Vacant Dwellings and Buildings

Since the recent Global Economic Crisis and the decline of the housing market Richmond has experienced a tremendous increase in the number of vacant buildings and foreclosed houses.  Buildings which remain vacant contribute to the appearance of blight and the increase in crime.  They are an attractive and dangerous nuisance to children, a place for rodents to nest, shelter for criminal activity, and significant fire hazards.  Additionally, vacant buildings add to the sense of blight by becoming an easy target for illegal dumping.

The Code Enforcement Unit actively works to enforce the Richmond Municipal Code to slow the depression of property values, improve neighborhood health and safety, and minimize unreasonable use of property and public nuisances.
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Securing Vacant Buildings
For these reasons a property owner is required to board up a building or structure if it becomes vacant and is not secure. Accessory buildings and structures on the property such as storage sheds and garages must also be secured to City specifications. A boarding permit from the City of Richmond Building Regulations Division is required. No building shall remain boarded for more than six months. Vacant property owners shall post a notice in a conspicuous place on the front of the building stating the name, address and contact number and, if applicable, the owner’s agent in control of the building.

Code Enforcement Officers have the authority to issue Tier Two Administrative Citations ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to the owners of vacant properties who violate this regulation.

The Richmond Municipal Code section 6.38 and 2.62.040 establishes regulations related to Maintenance and Monitoring of Vacant Dwellings or Buildings.  PER the Richmond Municipal Code, vacant properties must be registered in the Code Enforcement Unit within 30 days of becoming vacant.

Please note the annual fee of $153.00 for vacant property registration must be included in the form of a personal check, cashier's check or money order made payable to the City of Richmond at the time of registration to avoid invoicing, service charges and potential late fees. Registration forms submitted without payment will not be processed.

Vacant Property Registration Form

Foreclosed Residential Properties 
The main issues with foreclosed residential properties, as with the vacant buildings described above, are the lack of property maintenance and the increase of garbage, debris, weeds, and broken windows.  The theft of wiring and plumbing from interior and the use of the vacant and unsecured houses by transients and squatters contribute to the increase of criminal activity.

These foreclosed properties violate numerous City ordinances and are considered public nuisances under the Richmond Municipal Code. The Code Enforcement staff have the authority to impose civil fines of $1,000 per day each day the bank/owner fails to maintain the property.  We recommend that prospective buyers of vacant and/or foreclosed properties check with the Contra Costa County Tax Assessors Office to determine if there are any outstanding fines and/or assessments against the property.

Refer to Richmond Municipal Code section 2.63 for more information about foreclosed properties, civil fines, fees and assessments.