Vacant Building Registry (VBR)


City Council passed an amendment to the City Code in March 2023 to add section 90-21 which requires a new Vacant Building Registry (VBR). Now, owners of buildings that have been vacant for over 60 days must submit a VBR application for each such property and pay a fee annually. This requirement goes into effect as of 1/1/2024. Properties that fail to comply are eligible to be cited for a code violation and subject to potential ticketing and fines.

“Snowbird” Exemption

The VBR requirement does not apply to single-family owner-occupied residential dwellings where the owner departs Rochester for the winter months, provided that:

  1. The property is secured in a manner that does not indicate from the exterior that the property is vacant
  2. The property does not have outstanding code violations
  3. The owner will return to Rochester no later than 180 days after departing
  4. The owner has arranged for property maintenance, including snow removal, grass-cutting, and other landscaping obligations

Vacant Building Registry Fee Schedule

 Vacant Building Size/Type

Year One

Year Two

Year Three and Beyond

1 - 3 Unit Residential




4 - 6 Unit Residential




7+ Unit Residential

$100 per unit

$200 per unit

$400 per unit

Non-Residential Commercial


The greater of:


$0.05 per sqft

The greater of:


$0.10 per sqft

The greater of:


$0.20 per sqft

*Any Type

When Submitting an Acceptable Building Management Plan




*In the first year only, the fee may be reduced to $100 with the submission and City approval of an acceptable Vacant Building Management Plan. Any property owner who subsequently fails to comply with their accepted management plan and proposed timeline will be required to retroactively pay the amount that the first year’s fee was reduced as an additional fee when filing the next applicable annual Vacant Building Registry registration.

Vacant Building Management Plan Required Details 

Every VBR must be accompanied by a vacant building management plan (management plan). The management plan shall address one or more of the following three management options for the vacant building property: 

  1. Demolition. The plan for this option shall include a time schedule indicating when major phases of the work are to be initiated and completed, including those activities necessary to protect worker safety, human health and the environment and to satisfy site restoration and design standards as set forth in the City's Demolition Regulations in Chapter 47A of the Municipal Code. 
  2. Rehabilitate and reoccupy. The plan for this option shall include a time schedule of the major phases of repair, renovation and rehabilitation activities to be completed no later than the expiration of the registration to which it is attached. 
  3. Stabilize and maintain. If the building is to remain vacant indefinitely or for so long as it will remain vacant prior to the implementation one of the foregoing demolish or rehabilitate/reoccupy options, the plan should include a list and time schedule for all measures necessary to maintain and secure the building in accordance with the owner's duties and standards of safety and sanitation, as well as a statement of the reasons why the building will be left vacant either indefinitely or temporarily prior to implementing one of the demolition or rehabilitate/reoccupy options.

The Management Plan shall be reviewed by the City, and the registration application to which it is attached shall not be deemed complete until the management plan is approved. The City shall notify the owner that the management plan is either accepted or rejected and, in the case of a rejection, what additions or modifications are necessary to make the management plan acceptable. 

Online Digital VBR Submission in the Civics Portal 

The City launched a new online property management portal on 8/4/2023. Civics provides a suite of self-service functions to help property owners and managers better manage their portfolios and interaction with the City.  

The VBR must be completed within the Civics Portal

For instructions on getting started with Civics, please: 

  1.  Visit the Civics instructions webpage:
  2. Download the full Civics User Guide

IMPORTANT NOTE: Registering as an Individual vs Company in Civics

In almost all circumstances, the City recommends that users create their Civics account as an individual “natural person”, ie “John Smith”, even if they will be conducting business on behalf of an LLC. This will avoid you needing to maintain two or more separate Civics accounts, with separate email addresses.

You are permitted to register a property in Civics via the Building Owner Registry in the role as owner on behalf of any person or company for which you are an authorized agent. This is typically provided through a management agreement, power of attorney, incorporation paperwork, or other similar legal document. Regardless of who is registered in the Building Owner Registry, the property's legal owner (per the deed) retains ultimate legal responsibility for the property and all associated costs. all bills, notices, tickets, fines, and other official communications from the City will continue be addressed to the name of the property owner per the deed on record with the Monroe County Clerk, and mailed to the tax bill mailing address on file with the Bureau of Assessment.

For properties that require a property manager contact to be designated, only a "natural person" may be designated as property manager. A LLC or corporation may not be designated as a property manager.

VBR Application Instructions 

  1. Download the full Civics User Guide and review the instructions and guidance for account setup.
    • The City does not recommend creating an account as a company (such as a LLC)
    • You may register as a person (yourself) and register for properties on behalf of any owner if you are an authorized agent of that owner. The legal owner of record still retains ultimate responsibility for the property
  2. Create a Civics account at  
  3. Sign in and navigate to the Civics home page 
  4. Click Submit New Application near the top of the page 
  5. Locate the Property Owners section of applications, and click it to expand it 
  6. Click Vacant Building Registry
  7. In the Additional Applicants section, click Invite Applicant to add additional contacts such as a property manager who will need to view and edit the VBR record. If they don’t need to view or edit the application you don’t need to add contacts in this section. A property manager is required to be designated for any property owned by an LLC or corporate owner, or an owner who resides outside of Monroe County. The property manager must be a “natural person” and can’t be a company name. 
  8. Click Add Address
  9. In the popup search the property address. If the property has an address range, search based on the lowest number in the range.  
  10. Once located, click the address to select it and click Add Address  
  11. Choose the management plan option. Enter a proposed reoccupation date, and the date the property originally became vacant. 
  12. Add rows in the table below with the name and contact information for other contacts associated with the property. Any property owned by a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) must disclose all natural person owners, members, managers, or other authorized persons of the LLC as part of the BOR. If the LLC is owned by another LLC, the “natural person” owners, members, managers, or other authorized persons of the owner LLC must be listed. Continue this process until all LLCs in the ownership chain have disclosed all their associated “natural persons.” This is required per City Code section 90-21. Click here to download a fillable PDF template for the LLC disclosure requirement
  13. Enter your name to certify the document, and click Save and Continue
  14. Review your information for accuracy, and click Submit. You will receive a confirmation email. 
  15. On the resulting confirmation page that loads after submission, or from your confirmation email, click the blue application ID number to return to the application 
  16. Near the bottom of the page, click Add to upload your Vacant Building Management Plan as a PDF or Word file. See above section of this page “Vacant Building Management Plan Required Details” for what must be included in the management plan for it to be accepted. 
  17. Upload a copy of an active property insurance certificate 
  18. Upload a photo of a government issued photo ID for the person submitting the application. It does not need to be the owner’s ID. If an authorized agent of the owner is submitting, it may be their ID. 
  19. Once these are uploaded and saved, check to see that the Status has changed to Completeness Check. If so, no further action is required at this time 
  20. You will receive another confirmation email once your application has been approved, or if further information is required 
  21. Once the application is approved, you will need to log into Civics to pay the application fee. This can be done from the Civics homepage under My Fees

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Common Issues

  1. What information will be posted publicly online?   
  2. Why is a government issued photo ID required? 
    • Due to the ease of access to the online Civics system from anywhere in the world, the City has an obligation to mitigate the risk of individuals falsely submitting records for properties they don’t own, or other forms of falsifying records. The photo ID would only ever be used in cases where there is a dispute between two Civics accounts to help confirm who is the “true” owner, or in cases where the City may need to confirm the identity of the account for other reasons. 
  3. Why is the LLC ownership disclosure required? 
    • This new requirement was added to both the VBR and the Building Owner Registry via a City Code amendment in March 2023. Please visit for more information. The VBR reference is in City Code section 90-21.
  4. Who can submit the Vacant Building Registry application? 
    • The VBR can be submitted by the property owner or an authorized agent of the property owner, such as a property manager. 
  5. Why is the City penalizing property owners who are taking positive actions to rehab vacant buildings? 
    • Even well-maintained vacant structures are a detriment to their communities. They lead to a decrease in surrounding property values, attract crime and public safety issues, and contribute to fewer housing units being otherwise available when units are in short supply. The City is taking a more aggressive stance on vacant buildings due to an uptick in public safety issues and taxpayer funded costs associated with dealing with them. Investors and property owners are advised that they should not acquire or hold vacant buildings that they don’t have the resources or capacity to rehab and reoccupy within 12-24 months. The first year application fee should only be a nominal $100 for owners who have an accepted plan to rehab the property.  
  6. I completed the VBR in Civics but the status doesn’t show as complete. Is this an error? 
    • Locate the BOR record in your “My Records” list within Civics. Double check to make sure that the status shows as “Complete”. Otherwise check the “Current Step”- the following may still be required:  
    • A photo ID upload  
    • A property manager designation, and the property manager's Civics account may not a company, they must be a person. They must also have an address located within Monroe County.
    • Property insurance certificate
    • LLC Owner Disclosure
    • Building Management Plan (or revisions to the management plan requested by the City) 
    • Payment of the application fee