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Vacant Lot Program

Vacant Lot Program

There are approximately 40,000 vacant lots in the City of Philadelphia and over 74% of these vacant lots are privately owned. It is the responsibility of the vacant lot owner to secure and maintain their property. Unfortunately not all property owners take the necessary steps to protect and care for their property. Property owner neglect combined with careless tossing of trash and illegal dumping of bulk trash (such as construction debris) exacerbates the problem. Overtime, the high weeds, trash and otherwise unsanitary conditions of the lot will lower property values and can attract large scale illegal dumping operations which adds to the overall perception of blight in the neighborhood.


Report a Vacant Lot for Cleaning

  • Residents can call 311 to request a vacant lot clean up. If calling 311 by cell phone or from outside the city, please call (215) 686-8686.
  • Please provide the 311 operator with your name, address and phone number so we can contact you if we have additional questions.
  • Missing or incorrect information may delay the clean up process.
  • Remember all information is kept confidential.

Clean Up Process

After a complaint is made to 311 about a vacant lot, the Vacant Lot Program initiates steps to address the problem first by categorizing the status of the lots: Lots without existing property code violations or Lots with existing property code violations or City Owned Lots.

Without Existing Property Code Violations

Response Time: This entire process may take up to 90 days from the initial complaint until the date of the clean up especially during the summer months.
Receipt of Complaint: Requests for vacant lot clean ups are received from 311. The Customer will receive a ticket number to track the progress of their complaint.
Initial Inspection: An inspector will be dispatched to the address to verify the complaint. Photos will be taken of that lot and all other vacant lots on the block that are in violation. If the complaint is unfounded, the ticket will be documented and closed.
Notices Issued: If the complaint is verified by the inspector, violation notices will be sent to the property owner/s who have 10 days to clean the lot.
Property Owner Complied
Property Owner Complied: If the owner complies with the notice (cleans the vacant lot), then no further action is needed. The Vacant Lot Program will not abate the property and the violation will be closed.
Property Owner Did Not Comply: If the owner chooses not to comply with the notice, a Vacant Lot Program abatement crew will be dispatched to clean the property.
Abatement & Billing: The vacant lot clean up usually occurs within 30 days after the dispatch. Once the property is cleaned by the City, the owner of that property will be billed for all costs associated with the clean up. If owner does not pay the clean up bill, a lien is placed against the property.

With Existing Property Code Violations or City Owned

Response Time: This process may take up to 30 days to abate, possibly longer during the summer months.
Receipt of Complaint: Requests for vacant lot clean ups are received from 311. The Customer will receive a ticket number to track the progress of their complaint.
Initial Inspection: An inspector is dispatched to the address to verify the complaint. Photos will be taken of that lot and all other vacant lots on the block that are in violation.
Abatement: If all of the privately owned vacant lots on the block have current violations written, then the vacant lot complaint will be immediately dispatched for abatement and billing. If all of the vacant lot(s) on the block are City owned, vacant lot crews will be dispatched for abatement.

Clean Up Calendar

Vacant Lot Program clean ups are clustered by zip code for greater efficiency. To see when these clean ups are scheduled in your neighborhood, please click on the calendar link below:
Vacant Lot Program Clean Up Calendar

Want to Help Clean Up Your Neighborhood?

Contact our Community Partnership Program and request a loan of hand tools for your next community clean up. Supplies loaned by the program include rakes, brooms, shovels, refuse bags, etc. and are available to community groups, businesses, homeowners, etc. citywide.

Additional Information & Tips

Don't Litter:
Don't throw trash and debris onto vacant lots, streets, sidewalks, etc. If you cannot wait for the weekly trash removal provided by the City, the Streets Department operates three Convenience Centers that are open to city residents. Please remember, all trash must be brought inside the Sanitation Convenience Center during regular business hours. The Streets Department also provides a list of trash disposal facilities that will accept household and small contractor bulk items and construction debris for a fee. Refer to the website for any restrictions.

Property Security & Maintenance:
Owners are responsible for securing and maintaining their property. Fencing is an effective way you can secure your property. Also, routine maintenance on the property such as litter removal, mowing grass, pruning or removing trees can deter illegal dumping and help you avoid getting a property maintenance code violation. More importantly, your neighbors will appreciate the effort to keep the neighborhood neat and clean.

Trees:
Issues involving curbside trees are to be reported to Fairmount Park at (215) 685-0014. Fairmount Park does not prune or remove trees on private property. Trees that need to be pruned or removed from private properties are the responsibility of the property owners.

Alleys & Driveways:
Maintenance of alleyways and common driveways are the responsibility of the homeowners. The City of Philadelphia does not own or maintain them. It is the responsibility of the property owners of the abutting addresses to clean and maintain them.

YARDS Issues involving yards are to be reported to 311.

Contact Us

1401 JFK Blvd
Rm 930
Philadelphia, Pa. 19102-1670

Phone: (215) 686-2114
Fax: (215) 686-9919