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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: February 15, 2020

Mayor Brown Unveils New Measures to Combat Problem Commercial Properties in The City of Buffalo

Commerical buildings presser

Mayor Byron W. Brown today announced a series of new code enforcement measures designed to crack down on commercial property neglect by building owners in the City of Buffalo. This new initiative will:

  • Aid inspectors in identifying unstable structures earlier and therefore adds pressure on owners to properly maintain their properties
  • Create a new administrative hearing process to work with owners and reduce Housing Court caseloads
  • Propose legislation seeking higher fines and stiffer penalties for noncompliance and
  • In extreme cases, seek to obtain ownership of problem properties when owners refuse to undertake critical repairs

These tough measures are part of the Brown Administration’s ongoing efforts to strengthen neighborhoods and protect residents, businesses and visitors in the City of Buffalo.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that some commercial property owners are keeping their structures in substandard conditions in the City of Buffalo,” said Mayor Brown. “Commercial properties are very important to  our City, they are the places where many of us work, shop and gather. That is why we cannot allow negligent owners to let their commercial properties fall into a state of disrepair that endangers tenants and the patrons. These stronger measures will ensure public safety, protect older structures and hold problem property owners accountable.”

Over the last month, the City of Buffalo compiled a list of nearly 250 commercial properties identified as being in poor condition via data collected during the last citywide reassessment, City inspectors or by referrals from Buffalo Common Council members. The City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services (DPIS) inspectors, as well as members of the Buffalo Fire Department, will begin inspecting commercial properties immediately. If the properties fail to comply with code, the owner will be issued a citation for violations and have ten days to contact DPIS to either remedy the issues or face an administrative hearing.

These administrative hearings will enable DPIS representatives and commercial property owners to enter in agreements that resolve the underlying issues which have caused the building to fall into disrepair and enter into an agreement to resolve those issues. If the property owner fails to adhere to the terms of the agreement, the matter will be referred to City of Buffalo Housing Court and the City will be prepared to go to trial and seek the highest penalties and fines under the law.

Mayor Brown is also proposing legislation to Common Council to increase the property neglect fines Housing Court can impose from $1,500 to $2,000, institute a $500 a day fine for owners who fail to file a letter of intent when they purchase a vacant building and allow unpaid fines or penalties to be attached to the property owners’ tax bills when they refuse to pay them. This new legislation will help ensure higher rates of compliance while also giving the City the tools it needs to enforce its building codes when owners fail to follow the law.

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