Vacant Property Maintenance
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Property owners should maintain and secure their vacant property.

This effort will help you be a good neighbor, prevent weather damage, reduce pest and rodent activity, and deter trespassing, vandalism, and other illegal activity. It will also help you to stay in compliance with Pierce County Code.

  Common Issues
Common issues at vacant properties that have not been maintained and properly secured include:

  • Accumulation of solid waste (sometimes from illegal dumping
  • Junk and/or abandoned vehicles on the property 
  • Overgrown vegetation 
  • Unsecured or uninhabitable structures 
  • Graffiti 
  • Trespassing or unauthorized use 
  • Tree/timber theft
  Tips to maintain and secure your vacant property
Here are some ways you can take care of your vacant property:

Visit your property regularly to check for issues.

Consider installing a security system.
You could also hire a security company to patrol your property periodically.

Maintain your structures:
  • Keep roofs clean, in good condition, and free of leaks.
  • Fix window cracks to keep moisture out.
  • Replace damaged screens.
  • Ensure siding is painted and not missing any sections.
  • Confirm gutters are free of debris and draining properly.
  • Address pest or rodent issues.
  • Check for leaking pipes.
  • Store building and construction materials in a secure location.
  • Properly dispose household hazardous waste.

Secure your property:
  • Post “No Trespassing” signs
  • Make sure exterior doors and windows properly close and lock.
  • Replace broken windows.
  • Keep your property well lit – both inside and out. 
  • Maintain gates and fences.

Check your handrails, guardrails, and stairs to make sure they are safe and stable.

Maintain your landscaping: 

This effort will help you create visibility on your property, maintain community standards, reduce rodent and pest activity, reduce fire danger, and control noxious weeds.

  • Trim bushes, mow the lawn, remove dead or diseased trees, etc. 
  • Ensure vegetation is not impacting sight distance of the traveling public, blocking traffic control signs, or impeding access to the public right-of-way.

Eliminate sources of stagnant and standing water, which may attract insects.
Remove excess garbage and debris from your property. Find out about:Illegal dumping and litter creditsRecycling menuTransfer stations

Do not store vehicles at vacant properties.

Learn about junk vehicle affidavits when no title or proof of ownership is available.

Ensure systems related to power, heating, water, sewer/septic, and smoke detectors are functioning properly.

Send mail and other deliveries to a PO Box or an occupied property.

  Maintaining properties that don’t have structures or other improvements

Some vacant properties do not have structures, access roads or other improvements. While many items in the list above apply to these properties, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Critical areas: Environmentally sensitive areas on your property like wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, flood and landslide hazard areas are protected under the Critical Areas Regulations Title 18E. To learn more, please Ask the Development Center
  • Fences: Unclear property boundaries could lead to issues such as trespassing. Consider having your property surveyed and installing fencing to identify your property boundaries and deter trespassing and other illegal activity.
  • Clearing and forest practices: If the property has trees, you could become a victim of tree/timber theft. Consider installing security cameras, hiring a security company to monitor your property, and install fencing. 
  What happens if my vacant property is not maintained?

If your property is not maintained, you may experience issues with pests, rodents, or illegal activity. Such activity could impact your neighbors as well.

Your property may also be in violation of Pierce County Code. 

   List of Violations

  Do I need a permit for any activities associated with my vacant property?

You might! Examples include if you plan to remove trees, install temporary fencing or gates, demolish a structure, or block or alter your driveway approach. 

   Learn More

  Reporting a problem
Please contact the appropriate agency about problems with a vacant property in unincorporated Pierce County:

Report illegal activity:
Call 911. If the incident is no longer in progress, call the Pierce County Sheriff Department’s non-emergency line at (253) 287-4455.

Report a fire:
Call 911.

Report a code enforcement violation:
(253) 798-4636

Find out if a structure is exempt from getting a permit: 
  Work Exempt From Permit Bulletin #8
(253) 798-3739

Illegal dumping in the county right-of-way:
(253) 798-6000

If the vacant property is within a city or town, please contact the appropriate jurisdiction.

  Other Resources

Forest Practices & Tree Removal
Removing trees from your property