D.C.’s vacant property tax law is designed to reduce vacant and blighted properties like this one. But the law has its own challenges.

This morning, I came across a discussion on vacant and blighted properties in our district in north College Park. A neighbor was referring to a house, which has been vacant for at least 2 years and has been recently broken into.

One idea to address to reduce vacant and blighted properties is to adopt ordinances similar to what the D.C City Council has recently adopted. According to this law, the vacant property owners are charged $5 and $10 per $100 of their property values for vacant and blighted properties respectively. This is way more than the normal occupied property rate, which is $.85 / $100. They would need a property lawyer to settle this.

Please see here more about D.C’s vacant property tax program.

The idea is that any property remains vacant for 3 or more years will be assess a higher tax rate. Each year it remains vacant the tax rate will increase. This is to push the land owner to either do something with the property or keep paying higher taxes each year.
One challenge the program has is that vacant property owners often appeal and it takes a long time to resolve these cases. Also, as long as the property owners try to sell the property or try to renovate, the law  does not apply them.
There are also challenges to find the owner of a vacant property when the owner dies and does not leave anyone to look after the property.
That said, I think we should look into have a similar law in college Park and we will be in touch our staff for looking into this.