Heads up: There are no amended sections in this chapter.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

This chapter provides minimum standards for the maintenance and registration of vacant buildings and other vacant structures.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

Amended Coun. J. 2-19-20, p. 14474.

The owner of a structure that is vacant must maintain the premises as provided in this code and in accordance with the additional requirements in Sections 14X-12-1202.2 through 14X-12-1202.7.
This obligation begins as soon as the structure becomes vacant and continues as long as the structure remains vacant.
Outdoor areas must be maintained in accordance with Sections 14X-12-1202.3.1 through 14X-12-1202.3.6.
Fences and gates must be maintained in sound condition and in good repair.
Outdoor areas must be maintained so that water does not accumulate or stand on the ground.
Grass and weeds on the premises must be kept below ten inches (254 mm) in height. Dead or damaged trees, tree limbs, or shrubbery must be cut and removed from the premises.
Garbage, rubbish, and any other material that creates a health, safety, or fire hazard, including mail and similar material delivered to the premises, may not be allowed to accumulate in any outdoor area.
The premises must be kept free of rodent harborage and infestation and conditions which are conducive to rodent harborage.
The walkway leading to the main entry door and any public sidewalk adjoining the premises must be kept clear of ice and snow.
The exterior of a vacant structure must be maintained in accordance with Sections 14X-12-1202.4.1 through 14X-12-1202.4.7.
Foundations, basements, cellars, and crawlspaces must be maintained in sound and watertight condition adequate to support the structure and protected against the entry of rodents or other animals.
Exterior walls must be kept free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting materials, and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or the interior spaces. Exterior walls must be protected against the entry of rodents and other animals.
Exterior windows and doors must be maintained in sound condition and good repair and in accordance with Sections 14X-12-1202.4.3.1 through 14X-12-1202.4.3.4 or the openings must be secured in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.6.
Exterior windows and doors must be equipped with hardware for locking, and the locking mechanisms must be maintained in properly functioning condition.
Exterior windows and doors must be secured to prevent unauthorized entry.
Exterior windows and doors must fit tightly within their frames, and the frames must be constructed and maintained in relation to the adjacent wall construction so as to prevent rain from entering the structure.
Any window which is broken, cracked, or missing glass or glazing must be replaced and maintained in good repair.
The roof must be adequately supported and maintained in weathertight condition. The gutters, downspouts, scuppers, and appropriate flashing must be in good repair and adequate to direct water away from the structure.
Chimneys and flues must be kept in sound, weathertight condition and in good repair.
Exterior stairs must be maintained in sound condition and in good repair. Porches, stoops, decks, verandas, and exterior balconies must be maintained in sound condition for their purpose.
Entrances and exits must be provided with lighting providing a normal intensity of not less than two footcandles (22 lux) on the floor surfaces within an eight-foot (2438 mm) radius around the entrance or exit continuously from dusk until dawn. Battery- or solar-powered units may be used to meet this requirement.
The interior of a vacant structure must be maintained in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.5.1 through 14X-12-1202.5.6.
A vacant structure must be kept free of garbage. Rubbish may not be allowed to accumulate in a manner that creates a health, fire, or safety hazard, or provides harborage for rodents or other animals. Materials stored on the premises must be stacked in an orderly manner, safely, and away from stairways, corridors, and other places of ingress and egress.
Foundations, roofs, floors, walls, stairs, ceilings, and other structural supports must be capable of supporting the loads associated with normal use and must be kept in sound condition and good repair. Floors and stairs must be free of holes, grooves, and cracks that could be hazardous.
Plumbing systems must be maintained with no leaking pipes. Pipes for water must be either completely drained or heated to resist freezing.
Exit doors required by Section 14X-12-1202.6.4 must be secured with an internal deadbolt lock or with a locking mechanism deemed equivalent or better by the building official. Exit doors required by Section 14X-12-1202.6.4 must be capable of being opened from the inside easily and without the use of a key or special knowledge.
Interior stairs must have treads and risers that have uniform dimensions, are sound, securely fastened, and have no rotting, loose, or deteriorating supports.
The interior must be kept free of insect and rodent harborage and infestation and conditions which are conducive to rodent harborage or infestation.
The owner of a vacant structure must immediately enclose and secure the structure in accordance with Sections 14X-12-1202.6.1 through 14X-12-1202.6.5.3 and in a manner that is reasonably intended to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. The owner must monitor and maintain the premises so that vacant structures remain secure.
Openings less than or equal to 1 square foot (0.1 m2) in area may be boarded with plywood, provided that the boarding is made weathertight and finished with varnish or paint of a similar color to the exterior wall and cut to the inside dimension of the exterior of the opening, and otherwise secured to the satisfaction of the building official.

Openings greater than 1 square foot (0.1 m2) in area must be closed and secured, using secure doors, glazed windows, polycarbonate boarding or commercial-quality steel security panels, or filled with like-kind material as the surrounding wall to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. Plywood is prohibited.

Exception: For the first six months that a building is vacant, openings greater than 1 square foot (0.1 m2) may be secured with plywood.

At least one building entrance must be openable from the exterior and secured with a door that is locked to allow access only to authorized persons.
A minimum of two exit doors must be openable from the interior of the building without a key or special knowledge. Sufficient exits must be provided and arranged so that the horizontal travel distance to an exit from any point on the ground-floor level does not exceed 150 feet (45.7 m).
Where a structure has been vacant for six months or longer and is not in full compliance with Section 14X-12-1202.4.3, the building official may require the owner to provide any or all of the additional security measures in Sections 14X-12-1202.6.5.1 through 14X-12-1202.6.5.3.
Every opening larger than 1 square foot (0.1 m2) in area that is located less than eight feet (2438 mm) above the ground, that can be accessed from ground level, or is located within eight feet (2438 mm) in any direction of an exterior stairway, fire escape, or other means of access must be closed and secured with polycarbonate boarding or a commercial-quality, 14-gauge, rust-proof metal security panel or door that has an exterior finish allowing for easy graffiti removal. Security panels and doors must be secured from the interior of the building to prevent unauthorized removal.
The structure must be monitored by a working burglar alarm system, as defined in Section 4-400-010 of the Municipal Code. The burglar alarm system must connect to all areas of the building subject to unauthorized human entry, including, but not limited to, all exterior doors, windows, or other readily accessed openings. The owner must maintain an active account with a third-party burglar alarm company that has twenty-four-hour live operators. The burglar alarm system must, upon detecting unauthorized entry, send an automatic signal to the burglar alarm company who will monitor the system and notify the owner of the unauthorized entry, and who will also telephone the police department to inform it of the unauthorized entry if there is no adequate response from the owner.
Where required by Section 14X-12-1207, a watchman must be provided in accordance with that section.
Wherever a vacant structure is required to be registered under Section 14X-12-1204, the owner must post a sign at the premises indicating the registration number; the name, address and telephone number of the owner or the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process; and the name, address, and telephone number of any person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the premises. The sign must be at least 8.5 inches (216 mm) by 11 inches (279 mm) and lettering must be legible from the public way.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

The owner of a structure that is vacant must maintain liability insurance for the premises as provided in Section 14X-12-1203.
This obligation begins 30 days after a structure becomes vacant or 30 days after the owner becomes owner of the structure, whichever is later. The obligation continues as long as the structure remains vacant.

A structure is legally presumed to have been vacant for more than 30 days if either:

  1. It is vacant and has not been secured in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.6.
  2. It is vacant and more than one window, door, or other opening, in any combination, is boarded up and either:

    1. 2.1. The yard contains grass or weeds more than 10 inches (254 mm) in height.
    2. 2.2. The yard contains an accumulation of junk and debris.
    3. 2.3. Snow and ice have not been removed from the walk leading to the building's main entrance and/or from the public sidewalk adjoining such building in the manner and within the period of time provided in Section 10-8-180 of the Municipal Code.
Insurance must provide the minimum coverage specified in Section 14X-12-1203.3.1 or 14X-12-1203.3.2, as applicable.
For buildings designed primarily for residential occupancy, the insurance policy must provide coverage in an amount of not less than $300,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, personal injury and property damage.
For all structures not covered by Section 14X-12-1203.3.1, the insurance policy must provide commercial general liability coverage in an amount of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage.
Any insurance policy acquired or renewed after the structure has become vacant must provide for written notice to the building official within 30 days of any lapse, cancellation, or change in coverage.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

The owner of a structure that is vacant must register the structure with the building official as provided in Sections 14X-12-1204.2 through 14X-12-1204.9.
This obligation begins 30 days after a structure becomes vacant or 30 days after the owner becomes owner of the structure, whichever is later. The obligation continues as long as the structure remains vacant.

A structure is legally presumed to have been vacant for more than 30 days if either:

  1. It is vacant and has not been secured in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.6.
  2. It is vacant and more than one window, door, or other opening, in any combination, is boarded up and either:

    1. 2.1. The yard contains grass or weeds more than 10 inches (254 mm) in height.
    2. 2.2. The yard contains an accumulation of junk and debris.
    3. 2.3. Snow and ice have not been removed from the walk leading to the building's main entrance and/or from the public sidewalk adjoining such building in the manner and within the period of time provided in Section 10-8-180 of the Municipal Code.
The building official may specify the form and manner of registration.

The fee for each registered structure for each registration or renewal period is $300. The registration fee or renewal fee is $600 if the applicable registration or renewal takes place not through voluntary and timely compliance, but as the result of a City identification of a violation of Section 14X-12-1204.

Exception: Governmental agencies are exempt from registration and renewal fees.

A registration is valid for six months from the date of registration.
In addition to other information required by the building official, the registration statement must include the name, street address, and telephone number of an authorized agent.
The agent must be a natural person, 21 years of age or older, designated by the owner as agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process, in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding, on behalf of the owner in connection with enforcement of this code. The agent's street address must be located in Cook County, Illinois and the agent must maintain an office in Cook County, Illinois, or reside within Cook County, Illinois. An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this section as to location of residence or office may be designated as the agent.
By designating an agent under the provisions of this section the owner is consenting to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered structure and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered structure or premises by service of the notice or process on the agent. Any owner who has designated an agent under the provisions of this section is deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the owner notifies the building official in writing of a change of agent or until the owner files a new registration statement.
Where requested by the building official, the owner must provide evidence of the insurance coverage required by Section 14X-12-1203 at the time of registration or renewal.
A registration statement shall be prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the City against the owner.
The owner must renew the registration for successive six-month periods as long as the structure remains vacant.
The owner must notify the building official within 20 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement or notice of deregistration with the building official in the form and manner specified by the building official.
The owner of a registered structure, following reasonable notice, must provide access to the building official or fire code official to conduct an exterior and interior inspection of the structure to determine compliance with the Municipal Code.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

Amended Coun. J. 2-19-20, p. 14474.

The mortgagee of a structure where the mortgage is in default must comply with Sections 14X-12-1205.2 through 14X-12-1205.6. Penalties for violations of this section are subject to the affirmative defenses in Section 14X-12-1205.7.

Beginning 45 days after a default, a mortgagee must determine, on a monthly basis, if the structure subject to its mortgage is vacant. This determination may be made by communication with the mortgagor, a visual inspection of the premises or other means reasonably calculated to determine if the structure is vacant.

Exceptions:

  1. The structure is registered by the owner pursuant to Section 14X-12-1204.
  2. The structure is registered by another mortgagee pursuant to Section 14X-12-1205.3.
Section 14X-12-1205 does not require a mortgagee to perform any action which it is barred from doing by an automatic stay pursuant to a bankruptcy proceeding.
To the extent allowed by law, a mortgagee's acts or omissions required by Section 14X-12-1205 will not subject the mortgagee to civil or criminal liability unless the act or omission constitutes gross negligence or willful, wanton, or intentional misconduct.

The mortgagee of a structure that is vacant must register the structure with the building official as provided in Sections 14X-12-1205.3.1 through 14X-12-1205.3.7.

Exceptions:

  1. The structure is registered by the owner pursuant to Section 14X-12-1204.
  2. The structure is registered by another mortgagee pursuant to Section 14X-12-1205.3.
  3. Construction operations were ongoing at the premises within the prior 6 months.
  4. The premises has active gas, electrical, and water service.
  5. The premises is the subject of a pending probate action, action to quiet title, or similar ownership dispute.
  6. Bona fide rental or sale signs are posted at the premises.
This obligation begins 30 days after a structure becomes vacant, or 10 days after a default, whichever is later. The obligation continues as long as the structure remains vacant.

A structure is legally presumed to have been vacant for more than 30 days if either:

  1. The building is vacant and has not been secured in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.6.
  2. The building is vacant and more than one window, door, or other opening, in any combination, is boarded up and (i) the yard contains grass or weeds more than 10 inches in height, or (ii) the yard contains an accumulation of junk and debris, or (iii) snow and ice have not been removed from the walk leading to the building's main entrance and/or from the public sidewalk adjoining such building in the manner and within the period of time provided in Section 10-8-180 of the Municipal Code.
The building official may specify the form and manner of registration.

The initial registration fee for each registered structure is $700. The fee for each renewal period is $300.

Exception: Governmental agencies are exempt from registration and renewal fees.

A registration is valid for six months from the date of registration.
In addition to other information required by the building official, the registration statement must include the name, street address and telephone number of an authorized agent.
The agent must be a natural person 21 years of age or older, designated by the mortgagee as agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process, in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding, on behalf of the mortgagee in connection with enforcement of this code. The agent's street address must be located in Cook County, Illinois and the agent must maintain an office in Cook County, Illinois, or reside within Cook County, Illinois. A mortgagee who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this section as to location of residence or office may be designated as the agent.
By designating an agent under the provisions of this section the mortgagee is consenting to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered structure and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered structure or premises by service of the notice or process on the agent. Any mortgagee who has designated an agent under the provisions of this section is deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the mortgagee notifies the building official in writing of a change of agent or until the mortgagee files a new registration statement.
A registration statement shall be prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the City against the mortgagee.
The mortgagee must renew the registration for successive six-month periods as long as the structure remains vacant and is not subject to an exception to Section 14X-12-1205.3.
The mortgagee must notify the building official within 20 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement or notice of deregistration with the building official in the form and manner specified by the building official.

The mortgagee of a structure that is vacant must secure the structure as provided in Sections 14X-12-1205.4.1 through 14X-12-1205.4.4.

Exceptions:

  1. The structure is registered by the owner pursuant to Section 14X-12-1204.
  2. The structure is registered by another mortgagee pursuant to Section 14X-12-1205.3.
  3. Construction operations were ongoing at the premises within the prior 6 months.
  4. The premises has active gas, electrical, and water service.
  5. The premises is the subject of a pending probate action, action to quiet title, or similar ownership dispute.
  6. Bona fide rental or sale signs are posted at the premises.
This obligation begins 30 days after a structure becomes vacant, or 10 days after a default, whichever is later. The obligation continues as long as the structure remains vacant.

A structure is legally presumed to have been vacant for more than 30 days if either:

  1. The building is vacant and has not been secured in accordance with Section 14X-12-1202.6.
  2. The building is vacant and more than one window, door, or other opening, in any combination, is boarded up and (i) the yard contains grass or weeds more than 10 inches in height, or (ii) the yard contains an accumulation of junk and debris, or (iii) snow and ice have not been removed from the walk leading to the building's main entrance and/or from the public sidewalk adjoining such building in the manner and within the period of time provided in Section 10-8-180 of the Municipal Code.

Exterior doors and windows and other openings in the exterior wall must be secured so that all openings are closed using one of the following methods:

  1. Locked doors.
  2. Locked windows without broken or cracked panes.
  3. Commercial-quality metal security panels.
  4. Filled with like-kind material as the surrounding wall.
  5. Polycarbonate panels.
  6. Plywood installed and secured in a manner approved by the building official.

    Exception: If during the registration period and following the initial boarding and securing of the structure in compliance with Section 14X-12-1205.4 the building official notifies the mortgagee in writing that the structure was found open or it has been judicially or administratively found to be open, in each case on two separate occasions at least 30 days apart, then the structure must thereafter be secured only with commercial-quality metal security panels or a method deemed equivalent by the building official.

At least one building entrance must be openable from the exterior and secured with a door that is locked to allow access only to authorized persons.
A minimum of two exit doors must be openable from the interior of the building without a key or special knowledge. Sufficient exits must be provided and arranged so that the horizontal travel distance to an exit from any point on the ground-floor level does not exceed 150 feet (45.7 m).

The mortgagee of a structure that is vacant must maintain the premises as provided in Sections 14X-12-1205.5.1 through 14X-12-1205.5.8.

Exceptions:

  1. The structure is registered by the owner pursuant to Section 14X-12-1204.
  2. The structure is registered by another mortgagee pursuant to Section 14X-12-1205.3.
  3. Construction operations were ongoing at the premises within the prior 6 months.
  4. The premises has active gas, electrical, and water service.
  5. The premises is the subject of a pending probate action, action to quiet title, or similar ownership dispute.
  6. Bona fide rental or sale signs are posted at the premises.
This obligation begins 30 days after a structure becomes vacant, or 10 days after a default, whichever is later. The obligation continues as long as the structure remains vacant.
The mortgagee must maintain all grass and weeds on the premises below 10 inches (254 mm) in height. The mortgagee must cut and remove all dead or damaged trees, tree limbs, and shrubbery.
The mortgagee must clear or remove snow from the walkway leading to the main entry door, and any public sidewalk adjoining the premises.
The mortgagee must abate the accumulation of debris, trash, and litter that does not constitute personal property in outdoor areas of the premises.
The mortgagee must reasonably maintain fences and gates.
The mortgagee must reasonably maintain the structural integrity of stairs and steps that lead to the main entrance of the building.
The mortgagee must winterize the building, which includes cleaning all toilets and completely draining all plumbing and heating systems.
The mortgagee must keep outdoor areas free of vermin and rodents.
Wherever a vacant structure is required to be registered under Section 14X-12-1205.3, the mortgagee must post a sign at the premises indicating the registration number; the name, address and telephone number of the mortgagee and the mortgage's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process; and the name, address and telephone number of any person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the premises. The sign must be at least 8.5 inches (216 mm) by 11 inches (279 mm) and lettering must be legible from the public way.

The following shall be affirmative defenses to penalties for noncompliance with Section 14X-12-1205:

  1. At the time of the violation the structure was occupied by any number of individuals, lawfully or unlawfully.
  2. The owner or another mortgagee has registered the building pursuant to Section 14X-12-1204 or 14X-12-1205.3, as applicable, and such registration is current.
  3. The mortgagee is barred from doing any action required by Section 14X-12-1205 by an automatic stay pursuant to a bankruptcy proceeding, provided that the mortgagee tenders evidence including the bankruptcy case number.
  4. The mortgagee has cured all violations within 30 days of receiving written notice of such violations. Notice sent by U.S. mail shall be deemed received seven days after mailing. An affidavit shall be conclusive proof of mailing.
  5. At the time of the violation, the mortgage was not in default.
  6. At the time of the violation, the mortgagee was not the senior lienholder of record on the real estate.
  7. A receiver has been appointed for the premises by a court of competent jurisdiction.
  8. In a foreclosure case involving the premises, the owner or mortgagor is actively pursuing any of the following:

    1. 8.1. A pleading or motion which asserts claims or defenses against the mortgagee.
    2. 8.2. A discovery request seeking a response by the mortgagee.
    3. 8.3. A request for mediation.
To the extent allowed by law, a mortgagee's acts or omissions required by Section 14X-12-1205 will not subject the mortgagee to civil or criminal liability unless the act or omission constitutes gross negligence or willful, wanton, or intentional misconduct. This provision does not waive the requirement to obtain permits or trade licenses for performing certain work required under Section 14X-12-1205, as otherwise required by the Municipal Code, or the penalties provided for failure to do so.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

Added Coun. J. 4-10-19, p. 100029.

The owner of any vacant and open structure, or any uncompleted abandoned structure, or any vacant boarded-up structure, or any otherwise enclosed vacant structure must have a watchman on duty upon the premises on which any one of such aforementioned buildings is situated every day continuously, unless the building has been secured by methods required in Section 14X-12-1202.6, including any heightened requirements under Section 14X- 12-1202.6.5.
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