Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Purpose of this Program
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The goal of the Vacant Building Pilot Program is to ensure that vacant buildings are maintained in good condition to a minimum standard of care to minimize the negative impacts that these buildings have on the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Poorly maintained vacant buildings have a negative impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the City's businesses, residents, and visitors. They lower property values, pose a health and safety risk to neighboring properties, and create a negative impression that impacts the City's valuable tourist and convention industries. Empty buildings impose significant costs on all taxpayers by requiring additional code and police enforcement.
Vacant buildings can become health and safety hazards, diminishing the overall quality of life of the community and neighborhoods. They have a high incidence of code violations, attract vagrants and criminal activity, draw and harbor vermin, and are vulnerable to fires. It is necessary for the City to maintain basic information on these properties, including the current contact information for the owner and/ or manager and a criminal trespass affidavit, to quickly resolve concerns impacting the health and safety of the City's citizens.
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Yes. You can report a vacant building by using the Report a Vacant Structure Form.
The Vacant Building Pilot Program applies to all vacant buildings within the within the Central Business District (CBD), historic districts and historic landmarks, and properties located within a 1/2 mile from active military bases.
No. The pilot program applies only to vacant buildings, not vacant lots.
No. The pilot program applies only if all units within a building are vacant.
The pilot program applies only to vacant buildings within a property.

A vacant building is a building, structure or house where all lawful activity has ceased, or reasonably appears to have ceased for 30 days.

Yes. Single family residential buildings that meet the standard of care are exempt from the program. The requirement to register within 90 days may be extended for properties listed for sale or lease at fair market value.
Yes. In certain cases the registration period may be extended and/or fees may be waived. Fee waivers may be granted in the following situations:
  • Property which has been devastated by a catastrophe such as fire or flood
  • If the property owner is indigent
  • Representatives of a property owner who is deceased or no longer legally competent
  • If the owner has obtained a building permit and is progressing in an expedient manner to prepare the premises for occupancy
Registration Requirements
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You may provide a signed affidavit form available from the Development Services Department and documentation that lawful activity is currently occurring within the building. Documentation could include a lease with a tenant.
The Vacant Building Plan of Action must be updated every 6 months.
Annually. Required paperwork and registration fees are due on January 31st of each year.
The annual registration fee is $250 for single-family residences and $750 for all other buildings. In addition an annual inspection fee of $0.01 per square foot ($50 minimum) will be charged.
The owner(s) of a vacant building must register after receiving a Notice to Register Vacant Building from the City of San Antonio.
Written notice of a change in ownership or a change of contact information for the owner or the designated manager must be provided in writing to the Development Services Department no later than 30 days after changes have occurred.
A local property manager must be designated if the owner of the vacant building does not reside in Bexar County. The local property manager must conduct business in Bexar County and shall act as an agent for the absentee property owner.
The Vacant Building Plan of Action Form must include a timeline for correcting all violations, maintenance plan while the building is vacant, rehabilitation plan, and proposed future use of the building.
You will have 90 days from the date written notice is issued to the property owner.
Standard of Care Requirements
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The standard of care for vacant buildings includes minimum standards for:
  • Exterior surfaces
  • Premises identification including vacant building identification placard (if applicable)
  • Building
  • Exterior walls
  • Roof and drainage
  • Decorative features
  • Overhang extensions and awnings
  • Stairways, decks, porches, and balconies
  • Chimneys and towers
  • Handrails and guards
  • Windows, skylights, and doors
  • Basement hatchways and windows
  • Sidewalks
  • Graffiti
Proof of insurance is not required for vacant single family buildings. Liability insurance is required for all other vacant buildings. A surety bond for the value of the building may be provided if insurance cannot be obtained.

An example of a placard is available for viewing at the Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center located at 1901 South Alamo Street.

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Yes, there are multiple grant and loan programs that are available to help repair and rehabilitate vacant residential and commercial buildings. Qualification requirements vary depending on each program. Please contact the Vacant Building Pilot Program Manager for more information.
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Failure to register is a violation of the Vacant Building Pilot Program. Such violation is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 per day.
Failure to maintain a vacant building to the required standard of care is a violation of the Vacant Building Pilot Program. Such violation is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 per day. Additional administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement remedies may also be sought.