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Property, lots & housing

Get a Vacant Commercial Property License

Service overview

You need a Vacant Commercial Property License if:

  • Your commercial property has been vacant for more than three months.
  • No construction work is happening or is scheduled to start.
  • You have a vacant pier that has structural elements partly or totally below water along the shorelines of the Delaware River, Schuylkill River, or estuaries.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues this license.

Who

Property owners and their agents can apply for this license.

Requirements

Other licenses and registrations

Vacant Commercial Structures

In order to get this license, the property owner must post a bond to cover the City’s potential cost of correcting code violations or resolving unsafe or dangerous conditions.

The required bond amount is determined by the total square footage of the vacant building (excluding the basement).

  • Less than 50,000 square feet: $50,000 bond required
  • 50,000–200,000 square feet: $100,000 bond required
  • More than 200,000 square feet: $500,000 bond required

Vacant Piers

In order to get this license, the owner must provide the following information with the application:

  • A certification that the structure has a barrier at all points of access from the onshore side of the structure.
  • Proof that the structure is posted on all sides, in a visible and conspicuous manner with “Danger – No Trespassing” signs.

Where and when

Online

You can apply online using eCLIPSE.

If you need help filing your application online, you can schedule a virtual appointment.

In person

You need an appointment to visit the Permit and License Center in person.

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Office hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Offices close at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.

Cost

License fee
$165

A non-refundable application fee of $20 is applied to the license fee. The balance of the license fee is due once your application is approved.

Renewal fee
$165

If you renew your license more than 60 days after the due date, you will be charged 1.5% of the license fee for each month since the license expired.

Payment methods and details

Accepted payment methods

Where Accepted payment
Online through the eCLIPSE application

(There is a $200,000 limit for online payments.)

  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
In person at the Cashier’s Station in the Municipal Services Building

(Items paid at the Cashier’s Station will be mailed within five business days.)

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
  • Cash

Checks and money orders

Check requirements
  • Make all checks and money orders payable to the “City of Philadelphia.”
  • The individual or company listed on the check must be listed on the application.
  • Personal checks are accepted.
  • Checks and money orders must have issue dates within 12 months of the transaction.
Reasons your check may be rejected

L&I will not accept checks that are missing depository information or are:

  • Unsigned.
  • Expired.
  • Post-dated.
  • Starter checks without account info.

Returned payment policy

If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds:

  1. You will be charged a $20 fee for collection.
  2. You authorize the City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect this fee directly.
  3. The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.
  4. If the City is unable to obtain payment, the license, permit, or appeal application will be void.
  5. You cannot take any additional action under a permit until you have paid all fees.
  6. The permit or license will be revoked if the outstanding fees are not paid within 30 days.
  7. You cannot file or obtain additional permits until you resolve the outstanding debt.

Late license payment

If you renew your license more than 60 days after the due date, you will be charged 1.5% of the license fee for each month since the license expired.

How

You can apply online using eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

Online

1
Upload all required documents.

Applications are reviewed within five business days.

2
If the application is approved, you will receive a notice to pay the balance.

If the application isn’t approved, you will receive an email stating what is missing or required.

In person

1
Visit the Permit and License Center.

L&I can review most applications while you wait.

2
L&I will either issue your license or request more information.

Renewal requirements

This license must be renewed every year the property is vacant. You can renew online through eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

To renew your license, you must have:

  • An active bond for vacant commercial structures.
  • A certification of a barrier at all points of access to a vacant pier and proof of “Danger – No Trespassing” signage.
  • A valid email address.

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