Monday, November 5, 2018
PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence today announced that it has established a Real Estate Non-Utilization Tax on vacant and abandoned property citywide. The enabling ordinance was voted on and approved by the Providence City Council on October 4 after it was vetted and recommended for passage by the Committee on Finance. Mayor Elorza signed it into law on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. The City’s various departments will work to establish rules and regulations in order to implement this newly-enacted ordinance.
“It is in the best interest of all Providence residents that we address the vacant and abandoned properties that negatively impact the quality of life in our communities,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “The non-utilization fee aligns with our EveryHome program by holding property owners accountable while encouraging them to rehabilitate properties into productive reuse. This powerful tool will help us to support stronger, more vibrant neighborhoods throughout the capital city.”
To enforce the ordinance, the Department of Inspection and Standards will inspect a property and upon designating it as vacant and abandoned, it will notify owners in writing of the date of designation and the date upon which the non-utilization tax will be imposed. The additional tax is set at 10 percent of the assessed value of the real estate and will be imposed on structures that have been determined to be continuously unoccupied; under continuous citation; not maintained as evidenced by the exterior condition; or a lot with no existing structure that is littered with trash and obviously abandoned.
“One neglected property can impact an entire street, while also negatively impacting surrounding property values,” said Council President David A. Salvatore. “Ensuring that properties are occupied and kept in good condition creates pride of ownership and sense of community; it also positively contributes to the stability of our neighborhoods and home values.”
City Council President Pro Tempore Sabina Matos stated, “Abandoned and neglected properties in our neighborhoods cause real-time issues for neighbors besides potentially being an eyesore. They bring down property values; they can draw pests, become sites for illegal activity, and can destroy the character of a neighborhood. Keeping property owners accountable will not only help preserve our unique and diverse neighborhoods but will also improve the quality of life for all our neighbors.”
The non-utilization tax will not be imposed on property owned by an abutting neighbor, a new owner or a non-profit housing organization if a proposed development plan has been submitted; is determined to contain a reasonable timetable for development or reuse; there is adequate funding for implementation; and is in accordance with the approved comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances of the city.
The ordinance was crafted with input from Rhode Island Housing. As such, the tax will not apply to properties in which Rhode Island Housing holds an interest in; possess a first mortgage insured under any federally sponsored mortgage program including those sponsored by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Administration or the Government National Mortgage Association; or property owned under the RI Housing land bank program intended for development into housing for low-moderate income households.