Public Nuisance Properties

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On September 1, 2009, the City of Wilmington's public nuisance properties program took effect. Legislation passed by City Council on July 9, 2009 established a point system to provide for a better accounting of nuisance calls. The new standard offers a fair and equitable system for dealing with properties that denigrate city neighborhoods.

Points are assessed each time the City takes enforcement action against a property by the City. Points are assessed with or without an arrest or conviction; owners, occupants, lessors, lessees, licensees, and mortgages can all be held liable. The number of points assessed depends on the severity of the incident; for example, an offense involving a weapon is assigned eight points, while a sanitation violation is assigned one point. When more than one violation occurs during a single incident, the total points for the incident shall be the highest point value assigned to any single violation.

A building or structure is deemed a nuisance property if 12 or more points are accumulated within a period of six consecutive months or 18 or more points are accumulated within 12 consecutive months. A more detailed explanation of the violations is outlined in the ordinance.

Once a property has accumulated enough points to be deemed a public nuisance, the Commissioner of Licenses & Inspections is authorized to temporarily close the property; suspend or revoke any operating license or permit issued by the City relating to business or trade; and/or issue a criminal summons. Failure to comply with an order issued by the Commissioner is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 for the first offense, $2,500 for the second offense, and $5,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Owners of a nuisance property have the right to appeal an order of closure, suspension, or revocation by filing a written applicant for the Licenses & Inspections Review Board within 10 business days. An appeal shall act as a stay of an order until a decision has been rendered by the Review Board.