Philly may hike the cost of registering vacant properties

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 Philadelphia City Council members discuss increasing the annual fee for registering vacant properties from $150 to $300. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council members discuss increasing the annual fee for registering vacant properties from $150 to $300. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia already requires an annual payment for registering a vacant property. City Council is now trying to make that process more expensive.

Fees would double from $150 a year to $300 a year under the proposal. The current fee isn’t enough to cover expenses, said Rebecca Swanson of the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

“We try to get eyes on all vacant properties multiple times per year, whether it’s a residential a lot or commercial because of the fluidity of properties and how quickly the conditions can change,” Swanson said.

About 4,000 of the estimated 40,000 vacant properties in Philadelphia are registered now.

Although a City Council committee has approved the fee increase, a sticking point is the court order  mandating a $150 cap on the fee.  If the increase is approved by the Council, the Department of Licenses and Inspections will have to petition the court to increase the fee, which is not guaranteed.

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