Vacant structures discovered in dilapidated, deteriorated, or unsafe condition are a major concern for the Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses. The department monitors all known vacant structures in the Louisville Metro and oversees a program to demolish structures determined to be beyond repair. If a structure is determined to be in a deteriorated and unsafe condition and if it is judged to be unreasonable to repair such a structure, the owner may be ordered to demolish or remove the structure at his/her own expense. In cases where the owner fails to repair or remove the structure or where the department fails to locate the owner of such a structure after a diligent search, Louisville Metro is empowered to cause the structure to be demolished. The costs of demolishing vacant structures are placed as liens against such properties and attempts are made to recover such costs. In cases where the Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses determines that immediate demolition is required to prevent imminent hazards, the city of Louisville may take immediate measures to demolish such structures.
The power for the City to order a structure demolished is granted in the Codified Ordinances, Chapter 156 Property Maintenance Code. The City may order demolished any structure which is a hazard to the occupants or general public, which has been in severe disrepair for a considerable amount of time, or which has been a public nuisance by attracting vagrants or illicit and illegal activity. If the property owner does not demolish the structure when ordered, the City may take the responsibility for demolishing the structure billing the property owner for the cost of the action. The property owner is given ample notice and time of such order, and if warranted, may be given the opportunity to rehabilitate the property.
To assure that vacant structures do not become a fire hazard, environmental nuisance or refuge for drugs or vagrancy, all vacant buildings must comply with the following standards:
- All vacant buildings must be maintained and secured at all times. All doors, windows, areaways and other openings at the first floor or 10 feet and below or accessible from the ground must be secured against entry.
- All structures must be graded to prevent the accumulation of water. (Approved reservoirs are excluded.)
- The building and surrounding lot must be free from insects, rats and pest infestation.
- All sidewalks, steps, driveways, parking spaces and paved areas for public use must be kept in good repair, free from all overhanging trees and shrubs and dangers.
- Weeds must not exceed 10 inches. All noxious weeds are illegal. Weeds are grasses, annual plants, and vegetation except trees shrubs, or cultivated flowers and gardens.
- All exterior property areas must be clean, safe and sanitary, free from garbage and rubbish and not negatively affect the public health or safety.
- All accessory structures, such as detached garages, retaining walls, fences, gates and walls must be structurally sound and in good repair.
- Foundation walls must be plumb and free from open cracks and breaks.
- Every residential structure which has a street number must display that number on the front and rear (if it borders an unnamed alley) of the property in numbers at least 4 inches high and 1/2 inch wide.
- All supporting structural members must be structurally sound and free of deterioration.
- Every exterior wall must be free of holes, breaks, loose, or rotting boards or timbers. All exterior walls must be weatherproof and surface-coated to keep rain and dampness out.
- Roofs must not admit rain or dampness. Roof drainage must not release water so that it is a nuisance to the surrounding properties.
- Gutters downspouts, splash blocks and connecting drains must be properly installed and in good repair.
- All cornices and similar decorative features must be in good repair and properly and safely anchored.
- All canopies, marquees, signs, metal awnings, stairways, and fire escapes must be properly and safely anchored.
- All chimneys must be maintained in good repair.
- Every stair, porch, fire escape, and balcony must be safe to use and capable of supporting loads.
- Every basement hatchway must prevent entrance of rats, rain, and unauthorized persons into the structure.