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Vacant Buildings Program

The information found here is provided for information purposes only. If there are any discrepancies between this webpage and the Vacant Building By-Law (79/2010), the latter shall prevail.

The Vacant Buildings Program targets vacant buildings that are dilapidated, dangerous, improperly secured, subject to public complaints, and that have been vacant for extended periods of time.

For more information also see the Vacant Building Brochure

If you are aware of a vacant and dilapidated building or a vacant and non-secure building in your neighbourhood, please contact 311 and an inspection will be conducted.

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Vacant Buildings By-law

On July 21, 2010, City Council passed the Vacant Buildings By-law No. 79/2010

The intent of the Vacant Buildings By-law is to:

  • reduce the risk of fire
  • reduce safety hazards for firefighters and emergency personnel (i.e., gaping holes in floors, broken steps, etc.)
  • reduce urban blight
  • contribute positively to neighbourhood renewal by discouraging vacant buildings to remain inactive for extended periods of time
  • reduce illegal activities
  • ensure vacant buildings are brought to habitable standards prior to occupancy

Vacant and Derelict Buildings Strategy

On July 21, 2010, Council approved the 9-Point Vacant and Derelict Buildings Strategy.

The Vacant and Derelict Building Strategy is designed to:

  • streamline vacant residential and commercial property inspections and enhance inspection capacity
  • reduce the maximum time for boarding vacant residential buildings to one year (as opposed to 3 six-month permits allowed within a 5-year period)
  • shorten the Taking Title Without Compensation (TTWC) process
  • strengthen enforcement activities (i.e., fines, no-occupancy orders, and remediation activity including property demolition)

Vacant and Derelict Buildings Strategy

  1. More Assertive Action on Boarded Buildings
  2. Direct Remediation Actions
  3. Enhanced Routine Inspections of Vacant Residential Buildings
  4. No-Occupancy Orders and Occupancy Certificates for Residential Buildings
  5. New and Increased Fees Based on Cost Recovery and that Owners Who Comply with Property Standards Should Not Subsidize Those Who Do Not
    • In addition to fees designed to discourage boarding, new fees will be imposed and existing inspection fees will be increased in order to achieve cost recovery.
  6. Shortened Taking Title Without Compensation Process
  7. More Consistent and Aggressive Approach to Vacant and Derelict Building By-Law Prosecutions
    • Vacant Building By-law prosecutions will be prioritized.
    • Common offence notices (tickets) will be routinely issued to property owners of neglected vacant buildings who fail to comply with orders issued by enforcement officers
    • Once a conviction is obtained the Taking Title Without Compensation process will commence.
  8. Continued Community Consultation
    • Ongoing meetings with groups such as neighbourhood associations and/or other neighbourhood organizations will continue in order to solicit input, build awareness, and identify priorities.
  9. Performance Measurement Plan
    • The Public Service will monitor and report performance.
    • Performance measurement indicators are expected to be released commencing April 2011.

Definitions

Residential Building

  • a building that has been designed for or has been used for residential occupancies by:
    • one one or two families only, or
    • one family together with some other occupancy; or
    • a Division II Building (rooming house) as defined in the Residential Buildings Fire Safety By-Law No. 4304/86

Commercial Building

  • any building that is not a residential building

Taking Title Without Compensation (TTWC)

  • If no action is taken on a vacant building and the property owner has been convicted of an offence under the Vacant Buildings By-Law No. 70/2010, the City will initiate the TTWC process.
  • Working with the Province, this process has been shortened.

Direct Remediation

  • If the owner of a non-compliant vacant building fails to comply with an order to clean up the property, remediate any bylaw infraction take out a Boarded Building Permit or otherwise comply with the By-law, the City is entitled to remediate the non-compliance (including demolishing the building) of the property at the owner’s expense.
  • The Public Service will engage in remediation to alleviate dangerous situations, when a Boarded Building Permit needs to be taken out.
  • When remediation takes place, these costs (including Remediation Fee) will be added to the taxes on the property.

Schedule A Inspections

  • Residential vacant buildings that are subject to inspections and associated fees:
    • buildings that are the subject to complaints
    • buildings that are dilapidated
    • buildings that are eyesores
    • buildings that are dangerous
    • boarded buildings
    • buildings that have been vacant for extended periods of time
  • Conducted annually for maintenance and safety standards
  • See Schedule A Inspection Fees and how to avoid Schedule A Inspection Fees.

No-Occupancy Order

  • No occupancy orders will be issued to owners of residential vacant buildings under the following conditions:
    • when a vacant residential building is boarded; or
    • when a vacant residential building is dilapidated or dangerous according to the conditions outlined in Schedules A and C of the Vacant Buildings By-Law, or the Winnipeg Building By-Law, or other relevant statutes, regulations, and by-laws.
  • Please Note: A vacant residential building that has been subject to a no-occupancy order can not be re-occupied until an Occupancy Certificate has been issued.

Permits, Certificates, and Fees

Vacant Boarded Building Permit

Vacant Residential Boarded Building Permit fees are intended to ensure boarding standards, discourage long term boarding, and through the partial, time-limited refund, encouraged rehabilitation and removal of boards in a timely manner.

  • The Residential Boarded Building Permit fee is $2,290 for a single one-year permit.
  • A partial amount of this fee is refundable, if during the life of the permit, the building is conventionally secured (i.e., secured in a non-boarded fashion such as glazed windows and locked doors), meets all vacant building standards, an Occupancy Certificate is issued when required.
  • Buildings requiring boarding as a result of a construction process can obtain a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate from the City at no charge.

Fees for a Boarding Permit for Commercial buildings:

  • First permit: $2,290
  • Second permit: $4,030
  • Third permit: $5,690
  • Fourth permit: $7,400
  • Each subsequent year increase: $1,715

Residential and Commercial Boarded Building Permits can obtained at the Permits Office of the Planning, Property and Development Department, Unit #31 - 30 Fort Street.

Penalties

  • A $1,000 penalty will be applied in all cases for owners who do not obtain Boarded Building Permits when required. The fee for the applicable permit and the penalty will be added to the property taxes.

Schedule A Inspection Fees

  • Residential Vacant Building Schedule A inspection (charged no more than once annually)
    • $570.00 annual inspection fee if orders are not required
    • $1135.00 annual inspection fee if repair orders are issued
  • Commercial Vacant Building Schedule A inspection (charged no more than once annually)
    • $570.00 annual inspection fee if orders are not required
    • $1135.00 annual inspection fee if repair orders are issued

Occupancy Certificate

  • Vacant residential buildings that have been boarded or that have been subject to an order prohibiting use or occupancy must not be re-occupied until an Occupancy Certificate has been issued by the City of Winnipeg.
  • In order to obtain an Occupancy Certificate for a vacant residential building, a property owner must make arrangements for an Occupancy Certificate Inspection.
    • The printable Occupancy Certificate application must be submitted in person at Main Floor – 395 Main Street; 204-986-2234.
    • The Occupancy Certificate fee is $510.00. This fee must be paid prior to the Occupancy Certificate Inspection. After the fee is paid, a by-law enforcement officer will conduct an inspection.
    • Upon meeting Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law standards and other standards if required (i.e., public health inspection, Winnipeg Building By-law, etc) an Occupancy Certificate will be issued and the building can be occupied.
    • A residential Occupancy Certificate will expire if a new no-occupancy order is issued or if the building is re-boarded.

Boarded Building Exemption Certificate

When buildings need to be boarded for the purposes of securing a building during a construction process, the property owner can apply for a ‘Boarded Building Exemption Certificate’, which allows the building to be boarded without the Boarded Building Permit fee or permit itself. There is no charge for this certificate.

In order to be given consideration for an exemption certificate, an owner must apply in writing by submitting a letter of undertaking that contains and/or addresses the following requirements:

  1. A definitive statement/commitment that the building will be renovated to at least a state of compliance with the minimum requirements of the by-law; preferably to re-occupancy standards.
  2. Contain a time frame for the renovation work; both start and completion. The time frame for the renovation must be reasonable to the extent of the work required to bring the building into compliance or to occupancy standards.
  3. Any and all approvals and building, electrical and plumbing permits, if required, are obtained.
  4. Once permits are obtained, active work commences and continues steadily and at a reasonable pace to completion.
  5. Any and all work is done in a manner accepted as good workmanship in the trade concerned, using material suitable/approved and sufficient for the purpose.

A BBEC can be requested by submitting the required Letter of Undertaking to:

Operations Coordinator
Community By-law Enforcement Services
Community Services Department
5 – 395 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 3N8
Fax: 204-986-4094
www.winnipeg.ca/cms/

An exemption request should include:

  • Address / location
  • The reason why the building must be boarded
  • Anticipated date the building will become boarded
  • Estimated length of time the building will be boarded (maximum 1 year)

How to Avoid or Reduce Inspections and Fees

  • Don’t leave a building vacant for an extended period of time.
    • If a building is maintained and occupied, there will be no vacant building inspection, occupancy certificate, or Boarded Building Permits fees.
    • Vacant and dilapidated buildings are subject to community complaints forwarded to the City.
  • If your building becomes vacant and needs legitimate construction/renovation work, immediately apply for a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate.
    • There is no charge for a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate.
    • During the period when a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate is active, the property is not subject to the requirements for a boarding permit, but is still required to be boarded securely and in compliance with the By-law.
    • If the conditions of a Certificate of Exemption are not met, all requirements and fees will apply.
    • A Boarded Building Exemption Certificate can be revoked if, in the opinion of the Administrator, adequate construction progress is not being made and / or the nature of the work no longer necessitates the building to be boarded.
  • If you need to board your vacant building, take out the Boarded Building Permit in advance of boarding. A penalty of $1000 will be applied in addition to the Boarded Building Permit fee if a property owner is ordered to acquire a Boarded Building Permit. Additionally, if the City takes out a Boarded Building Permit on behalf of the property owner due to non-compliance with an Order, additional administrative time (minimum $100) will be charged.
    • 75% of the Residential Boarded Building Permit fee will be refunded if the building is conventionally secured OR if an Occupancy Certificate has been issued within one year of your Boarded Building Permit being issued.
Last update: January 31, 2017