Trenton, NJ, residents on the lookout for errors in vacancy reporting as property registration starts
Trenton, NJ: During summer 2014, a non-profit organization conducted a survey of properties as to vacancy and gave those results to the city. Volunteers went from area to area checking whether a property fit descriptions of vacant or occupied, and then marked the result on a digital map.
That information was then used to pass an ordinance in November 2014 requiring owners of vacant properties to register those properties found vacant with the city and pay an escalating annual fee; the initial registration fee is $250, running up to $1,000 or 5 percent of the assessed value, whichever is higher.
Though those efforts did help to establish vacant properties that needed to be addressed, some properties were marked as vacant, when they were only temporarily vacant due to being a rental property and was in good repair so as not to fall out of compliance with any city codes.
The result is, property owners need to be patient with those potential errors, as simply ignoring a mistakenly assigned vacancy charge will still result in fines for noncompliance. The city will waive fees and redact the vacancy label when property owners demonstrate the registration requirement was sent in error.
The city will continue to look for further methods to refine their vacant property registration and discovery program, and property owners will just need to remain patient and on the lookout for possible mistakes.
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