How much longer can Philly dodge its vacant property problem? p2

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Real Estate Law on Mar 17, 2015.

We are discussing the added emphasis Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed budget will place on building inspections. The proposal includes enough money for the Department of Licenses & Inspections to hire 43 new inspectors, as well as funds to increase staffing at departments that support L&I’s work. In part, this was the mayor’s response to a troubling report from the City Controller’s office about vacant properties in Philly.

In part, it was also a response to the increasingly frequent building collapses around the city. In just the past couple of weeks, a half dozen buildings have fallen down or suffered partial collapses. The good news is that no two-footed residents have died; the four-footed are not as lucky: At least one dog has perished.

It doesn’t appear that any of these buildings were included in the Controller’s list of the city’s top 20 dangerous properties — they were dangerous, but not on the brink of collapse. Aside from a winter marked by multiple freeze/thaw cycles and some significant rainfall, they came down without so much as a huff or a puff. There is little doubt about whether these buildings collapsed on their own or were somehow sabotaged — they jumped; they were not pushed.

As we said in our last post, the report recommended that L&I hire an additional 100 inspectors. It didn’t stop there. Other recommendations included:

  • Make unsafe, imminently dangerous and hazardous properties the highest priority in the department. Consistent monitoring is essential to keeping the public safe from harm.
  • Focus redevelopment efforts on the neighborhoods with the highest number of dangerous properties.
  • Cut license validity from one year to six months as a way to remind property owners more often of their responsibilities regarding maintenance.

We will wrap this up in our next post.

Sources:, “Three buildings collapsed on Saturday, weekly tally at 6,” William Bender, March 16, 2015

Office of the City Controller, “Vacant Properties Creating Neighborhood Nuisances,” January 2015

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