Vacant Buildings FAQ


What can I do to help address the problem of vacant buildings in Chicago?

  • Call 311 or click here to report a vacant or troubled building.
  • Check this website regularly for information about vacant buildings with code violations.
  • Attend a hearing. Contact your block club or call the CAPS implementation office at 312.745.5900 to find out about the court advocacy program.
  • Join a block club or start one by calling the CAPS office at 312.745.5900.
  • Attend a police beat meeting. For more information on beat meetings, click here.
  • Contact your Alderman for more information about programs and initiatives in your neighborhood.

How do I find information about vacant buildings in my neighborhood?

  • Use the search function on this website to find information about vacant buildings with code violations. You can search by address, police district, neighborhood/community area or ward. No account is required to search.
  • Having an account allows you to receive email updates about vacant properties that you add to “My Watch List.”

How do I report a vacant building?

  • Call 3-1-1 to report vacant or abandoned buildings or click here to report online
  • If unauthorized people are entering the building, call 3-1-1 (do not use the website) to file a miscellaneous police report.

What happens after I call 3-1-1?
Your inquiry will be forwarded to the Department of Buildings. A building inspector will be sent out to investigate the concerns and confirm that the building is vacant and/or dangerous. If the inspector finds the building is in violation of the Municipal Code, the City will bring an enforcement action against the owner(s) and other responsible parties in the Department of Administrative Hearings or the Cook County Circuit Court. If the responsible owner(s) and or mortgagee(s) do not take necessary action to eliminate the violations, the City may seek significant fines and/or obtain authority to board-up or demolish the building.

How do I make Freedom of Information (FOIA) request about a vacant building?
Vacant building registration information is maintained by the Department of Buildings. Information can be obtaining by submitting a Freedom of Information request.

Who owns these vacant buildings?
Unofficial ownership information is provided for most of the properties included on this website under “Contacts.” You can obtain official ownership information at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office, 118 N. Clark St. 


Is my building a "vacant building"?

  • For a single-family home or residential building with less than 10 units, if no one is legally living at the building, and no one who has lived at the building in the past intends to return to live at the building in the next six months, the building is vacant and must be registered within 30 days.
  • For a residential building with 10 or more units, if 90% or more of the units are unoccupied the building is a vacant building and must be registered within 30 days.
  • For a non-residential building, if substantially all lawful business operations have ceased the building is a vacant building and must be registered within 30 days. The presence of a guard or watchman does not mean a building is occupied.
  • For a construction site, if permitted construction operations have stopped, the construction site must be registered as a vacant building within 30 days. If a building is vacant due to a fire or other damage, the building is vacant and must be registered until repairs begin with a proper building permit, even if you are waiting for an insurance payment.

I own a vacant building. What am I required to do?

  • If you own a vacant building in the City of Chicago, you are required to:
  • Secure all openings to prevent unlawful entry.
  • Insure the property. Proof of liability insurance with specified minimum coverage will be required at the time of registration.
  • Register the vacant building at Payment of a registration fee ($250-500) is required at the time of registration. The fee will be higher if the City has found your property to be in violation of the vacant building requirements before you register. The website accepts payment using a credit card or checking account.
  • Post a sign in a prominent location on the building, visible from the nearest street, that includes the name, street address (not a P.O. Box), and phone number of the current owner(s) or owner’s agent, and the vacant building registration number assigned to the building during the registration process.
  • Maintain the property and visit regularly to make sure the property is clean and secure.
  • Renew the registration every six months. An additional fee will be required when you renew.
  • Deregister the building if the building is reoccupied or demolished or if you sell the property. You must deregister within 20 days of the qualifying event. If you fail to deregister as required, you may be liable for additional fees or penalties.

If the building is in poor condition, or you are unable to secure it, it may be more cost effective for you to demolish the building. Demolition requires a wrecking permit (obtained from the Department of Buildings), and must be done by a licensed and bonded demolition contractor. A vacant lot still must be kept clean and free of high weeds but does not need to be registered.

My building is in foreclosure. Do I still own it?
Yes. A foreclosure lawsuit does not automatically end your ownership of a building. Your ownership does not end until a judge signs an “Order Approving Sale”—this usually will be six-months to several years after the foreclosure lawsuit began. Until the judge signs an “Order Approving Sale” and a “Judicial Sales Deed” is recorded with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds you remain responsible for registering and maintaining the building.

Supporting Information Facts