Review of Privately-Owned Properties with Violations in the City of Philadelphia January 2015

Audit Date: February 11, 2015
Audit Categories
  • Investigation
Controller: Alan Butkovitz
Audit Tags
  • Licenses and Inspections,
  • Permits and Fees,
  • Taxes


City Controller Calls on L&I to continue pursing actions to eliminate collapsing buildings

Executive Summary

Why the Controller’s Office Conducted the Review

As part of the City Controller’s ongoing efforts to ensure public safety and quality of life in all Philadelphia neighborhoods, the Office of the City Controller reviewed privately-owned vacant properties with violations and examined those with any unresolved issues that may be causing unsafe conditions and blight in the City.

After receiving an inquiry from NBC 10 regarding the conditions of a few vacant properties, the Controller’s Office implemented a data-mining technique and cross matching of public records maintained by Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I). The objective of this review was to determine the locations where properties need immediate attention as well as serve as a guiding tool for L&I and all enforcement agencies to eradicate dangerous properties and to fight blight.

What the Controller’s Office Found

After examining public records for more than 5,700 privately-owned properties that were indicated as having a vacant-property license issued in 2013 and 2014, the Controller’s Office found the following:
-A total of 1,215 vacant properties contained violations. More than half, 791, had violations that were considered “Open” and/or not in compliance with City Code.
-There were 2,283 violations identified at the properties that were not in compliance.
-The majority, 81 percent, of the properties had more than one violation that was not in compliance, including one that had 20 open violations.
-There were 101 properties considered Unsafe, Imminently Dangerous, or Hazardous with conditions that were not in compliance.

The City Controller’s Recommendations

As some of these properties contain unsafe and imminently dangerous conditions, the City Controller’s Office continues to recommend that L&I prioritize its workload to ensure that these properties do not jeopardize public safety. Additional recommendations can be found at the conclusion of this report.