Vacant Buildings

See also: Vacant Building StandardsWeeds & Vegetation Code

What Is It?

A brown with grey hair woman in front of a vacant house with a question mark in a thought bubble.Vacant buildings in Seattle must be secured and maintained to prevent unauthorized entry and deterioration from the weather. Our Housing and Building Maintenance Code contains the City’s Vacant Building Maintenance standards.

We may add vacant buildings to our Vacant Building Monitoring Program if:

  • The owner does not bring them into compliance after a complaint
  • The vacant building has multiple complaints
  • The vacant building is in the development process
  • We receive a complaint by SPD or SFD

We inspect these buildings on a monthly basis and charge owners fees ranging from $271.85 to $542.60 per month depending on the condition of the building. Properties must have no violations for three consecutive monthly inspections to be removed from the program. We encourage owners to explore ways to keep buildings occupied while waiting for their permits to be issued.

If a vacant building becomes so deteriorated that it poses a danger to the public, we may seek an order allowing abatement – a court order granting us permission to enter onto the property and demolish the building. Before asking for a court order, we send a notice to the property owner and provide an opportunity for a hearing.

What It Isn’t

This ordinance does not cover:

Rules to Follow

Our ordinance requires that you:

  • Keep your vacant building in good repair, secured from unauthorized entry, and protected from the weather
  • Keep the grounds free of junk, parked cars, and overgrown vegetation
  • Remove deteriorating or unsafe building parts, such as staircases that may pose a danger to firefighters or other city personnel

Read the Code

Read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) sections on the vacant building standards SMC 22.206.200 and unfit building standards SMC 22.208.


Violations of the code may result in fines starting at $150 per day. Our vacant building monitoring fees range from $271.85 to $542.60 per month. If we have to board up or demolish a vacant building at the City’s expense, we will seek reimbursement and a tax lien may be placed on your property to recover those costs.

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.