Brown Deer’s Vacant Property Ordinance (VPRO)


Vacant Property Registration Web Site

The Village of Brown Deer has taken several steps in recent years to address the negative impacts that urban blight can inflict upon the community. The long-term vacancy of buildings and properties, when neglected and not maintained to a minimum set of standards, amplifies these negative effects
On November 1, 2015, the Village’s new Vacant Property Registration Ordinance (VPRO) went into effect. Chapter 39 of the Village’s General Ordinances requires owners of residential and commercial property left vacant for 30 days or longer to register the property with the Community Services Department, and to take steps to ensure that vacant property is secured, properly maintained, and does not create undue hazards for the surrounding community.
Any questions can be directed to Michele Lowell at

What is the Procedure?

The process of vacant property registration undergoes the following general steps:

  • Vacancy Determination. The property is either identified as vacant by a Village official, or by the property owner or lender.
  • The owner or lender inspects the property and submits an application for a Vacant Property Registration Certificate to the Community Services Department.
  • The owner or lender applies for a Certificate of Vacant Property Registration (and submits application form and $250 fee).
  • A Village official inspects the property and, if found to be compliant with maintenance standards for Chapter 39 – VACANT AND FORECLOSED PROPERTIES (HERE).  A Certificate of Vacant Property Registration is issued (valid for one year from issuance).
  • If the property is not in compliance, Village officials notify the owner or lender and specify what must be corrected to achieve compliance.
  • The property must then be re-inspected by both owners and the Village at least once every 90 days from issuance of Certificate, until vacancy ends.
  • Twelve months after initial issuance of certificate, the certificate must be renewed for all properties that remain vacant. The renewal fee is $250 per year.
  • See the Vacant Property Registration Web Site for all necessary registration information.

Who and what needs to be registered?

Owners of vacant residential and commercial properties must register by the earliest of the following three events:

  1. Within 90 days of the premises become vacant; or
  2. Within 30 days of being notified by an enforcement officer or Village-designated inspector; or
  3. Within 30 days of foreclosure proceedings initiated by a bank, lender, or other financial institution in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Property is considered “vacant” if:

  1. A residential property is unoccupied by the owner or tenant.
  2. More than 75% of units in a commercial strip mall are vacant.
  3. “Substantially all lawful business” at a commercial property has ceased.

What Information and Paperwork does the Village Need?

Applicants must fill out an application form on the Vacant Property Registration Web Site for a Vacant Property Registration Certificate. The bank, lender, other financial institution or its responsible agent or servicing company shall submit a $250 registration fee and register the property in the name of the lien holder on the application form.

What are the Property Maintenance Standards?

Property owners can consult Section 39-4 – Minimum requirements for vacant property: (HERE) for the Village codes to familiarize themselves with the exterior and interior maintenance standards needed to keep a property in good standing.

 What Are the Fees and Penalties for Failing to Register?

  • Applicants for a Vacant Property Registration Certificate must submit a $250 application fee upon submission of the application.
  • Certificates are valid for one year from the date of issuance. The annual renewal fee is $250.
  • Issuance of a Vacant Property Registration Certificate does not excuse owners from normal obligations in regards to property maintenance. Citations arising from code violations may be issued independently by Police Officers, Building Inspectors, or other code enforcement officers if code violations are not addressed promptly.

Fees that are left unpaid will be attached to the current tax bill for the unregistered property.