GOODPRACTICECOMPILATIONReactivation of vacant residentialbuildings and flats

WRITTEN BYNils [email protected] ALL ALT/BAU PARTNERS:City of Chemnitz, City of Constanta, City of Riga, City ofRybnik, Eriges/City of Seraing, Torino Urban Lab, City ofVilafranca del PenedesLEAD PARTNERCity of ChemnitzMartin Neubert, Westsächsische Gesellschaft fürStadterneuerung mbH (WGS)Project coordinator ALT/BAU Transfer Network andproject manager Agentur StadtWohnen [email protected] design and page setting: Strategic DesignScenariosThe URBACT transfer network ALT/BAU unites seven European cities in their effort tosupport the reactivation and reuse of vacant residential buildings and flats in their citiesby transferring and adapting the good practice model of Chemnitz’s ‘Housing agency.’ Inorder to achieve this, they have met at transnational meetings to learn and exchangeabout the transfer and adaptation of Chemnitz’s good practice as well as other goodpractices from the seven partner cities. Based on this exchange, the partners havedeveloped their own "housing agencies" adapted to their local situations.This good practice compilation provides an inside view of the good practices thepartners have discovered and explored during the course of the ALT/BAU network.2

TABLE OF CONTENTSChemnitz’s good practice4– The Housing agencyPartners’ good practices9Inventory and monitoring of vacant buildings and flatsCorrelating water consumption and municipal census data – Vilafranca del Penedes,1113SpainUsing geographic information systems (GIS) – Constanta, Romania15Participative online mapping ‘GRAUSTI.RIGA.LV’ – Riga, Latvia17Field visits – Categorisation – Collaboration – Seraing, Belgium19Marketing activities to attract people to vacant buildings21Music and family events – Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain23‘USE IN’ festival – Seraing, Belgium25Legal tools to reactivate vacant buildings and flats27Tax fines and incentives for rehabilitation and civic use – Riga, Latvia29Tax fine to stimulate reactivation of buildings – Constanta, Romania31Foreclosures to restart the future of abandoned buildings – Chemnitz, Germany33Right of first refusal to facilitate acquisition of affordable housing – Vilafranca del35Penedes, SpainMatching vacant flats with financially weaker tenants37Providing youth cohabitation in vacant flats – Stesso Piano – Turin, Italy39Student Housing in empty flats – AlloggiAMI – Turin, Italy41Social agency for residential contracted and assisted leases – Lo.C.A.Re. – Turin, Italy43Using vacant buildings and flats to provide affordable housing45‘Flat for Refurbishment’ – Rybnik, Poland47Free temporary housing in exchange for refurbishment: Masoveria Urbana49– Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain3

Chemnitz’sgood practice– The Housing agency4

Chemnitz’s good practice– The Housing agencyreal estate developers, reinstatementprocedures to dispossessed owners, largecommunities of heirs, mortgage debt, andownerless properties have contributed tothe severe neglect and disrepair of thoseold buildings.As a result, many historic and listedbuildings had to be demolished due totheir ruinous conditions.Background &ChallengesFor various reasons, after Germanreunification in 1990, Chemnitz became ashrinking city, losing 25% of its populationwithin 20 years. This trend wasaccompanied by a growing number ofvacant buildings. In 2012, 18 % of thehousing stock was empty; many of thesebuildings were in private ownership and alarge proportion of this vacancy was inhistoric buildings. An oversupply in thehistoric tenement sector, unresolvedownership statuses, limited ability ofowners to invest, multiple changes inownership, speculation, bankruptcies ofResponse & ResultsIn 2006, Chemnitz’s 'Housing agency'was created as an answer to thesedevelopments; the agency emerged froma research project for the cost-effectiverenovation of old buildings by a userowner cooperation in Chemnitz.5

The goal was to employ a variety ofstrategies, in particular the coordinationof relevant stakeholders and the supportof alternative housing projects, in order toenable the sustainable development ofdisused historic apartment buildings invarious states of disrepair.100 BUILDINGS100100 apartment buildings from the Gründerzeitera (1871-1918)61 listedSince its foundation, the ‘Housing agency’has become the central collector anddistributer of information on vacanttenement buildings in Chemnitz. It hasbridged the gap between the differentstakeholders needed for the reactivationof these vacant tenement buildings. It hashelped and connected relevantstakeholders from urban government andadministration with owners, localinitiatives and other real estate marketactors with a pro-active approach on aninformal and not profit-oriented basis.98 BUILDINGS WITH OWNERCONTACT9895 BUILDINGS WITH OWNERACTIVATION95Due to the work of the ‘Housing agency,’52 buildings are either currently beingrenovated or in immediate preparation forrenovation and 18 buildings have beencompletely renovated and are inhabited.In another 20 cases, the sale to a capableinvestor could be arranged.47 BUILDINGS PUBLISHED4771 BUILDINGS WITH A CHANGE INOWNERSHIPThe 'Housing agency' has also helped toreduce speculation by identifyinginvestors who are seriously interested inthe timely development of the buildingconcerned and are not looking for aspeculative resale. Further, the agencyhas helped to channel grant money to thevacant buildings where it can be usedmost effectively.7111 through foreclosure63 RENOVATION OR PREPARATIONPHASEThrough these activities, the ‘Housingagency’ has helped to avoid future costsnot only for the owners of decayingbuildings but also for the municipality. Foreach building that is rehabilitated, the citydoes not have to go into foreclosure orsubstitute measures with theirsubsequent legal procedures. Therehabilitation has also helped toovercome the negative image of theaffected neighbourhoods.6343 RE-USED BUILDINGS AFTERFINISHED RENOVATION43(mostly dwellings)For further information, take a look atChemnitz’s ‘Housing agency’ fact sheet.6

Housing Agency– Chemnitz, GermanyReactivating decaying, vacant historic apartment buildingsPROJECT DESCRIPTIONThe ‘Housing agency’ (URBACT Good Practice 2017) is a consulting service project of theCity of Chemnitz. It aims at the reactivation of vacant, decaying, historic apartmentbuildings in the extended inner city. The ‘Housing agency’ provides services to owners andinvestors free of charge to support them in the reactivation of vacant tenement buildings.The housing agency services are carried out by a local private urban developmentcompany, which received this task through a public tender. The ‘Housing agency’ fulfilstasks that are not foreseen within the city administration. At the same time, through theprivate company, the city administration is able to gain additional know-how and workcapacities.DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTSThe ‘Housing agency’ is the central collector and distributer of information on the vacantresidential buildings. Its activities include: creating a database with all available and relevant information on the buildings; monitoring more than 200 buildings including repeated site visits; continuously communicating and exchanging information with the city administration,owners and real estate market actors.7

The ‘Housing agency’ helps to organise the change of ownership if necessary by: pro-actively initiating and keeping contact with the owners; continuously searching for (small and large scale) investors, developers and alternativehousing projects that are willing and able to reactivate the vacant, decaying buildings; publishing and disseminating information on buildings whose owners are willing tosell.The ‘Housing agency’ provides support to owners and potential investors by: providing information about real estate market in Chemnitz and vacant buildings forsale; discussing the situation of the building; organising site visits; liaising with relevant experts, city administration and current owner; pointing out options for grant programmes and financial support from banks.SUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATIONThrough the active collection of information about thevacant buildings, the ‘Housing agency’ has become thecentral collector and distributer of information on vacantresidential buildings in Chemnitz. Through the pro-activeapproach to owners and potential investors and the freeprovision of consulting services, the agency was able tocontribute significantly to the activation of these twogroups to invest in vacant, decaying residential buildings inChemnitz.INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: City of ChemnitzKey stakeholders: ‘Housing agency’ (carried out by privateurban development company WGS), city administration(urban development department, building controldepartment, building protection authority, tax department),owners, potential investors and usersNEEDED RESOURCESThe ‘Housing agency’ has a staff of 2 persons with acombined working time of 2 days per week.The staff’s professional background is in urban planningand project management/ communication. The ‘Housingagency’ can also draw on additional expertise from withinthe own company, such as legal and financial expertise,real estate development, construction management,housing administration.FURTHER INFORMATION / EXAMPLES IN THE ntur StadtWohnenChemnitz/WGS mbHALT/BAU Transferability study, chapter 6Hc2wDm8jJ8lVYq6/view?usp sharingMartin [email protected]

Partners’good practices9

Partners’ good practicesFor the reactivation of vacant buildings,a variety of activities are necessary andpossible. The ALT/BAU partners havequite a bit of experience with thesetopics, especially in the areas of:opportunities there. The network partnersalso contributed to the exchange ofexperience on this topic with interestingexamples. Further information about‘Marketing, promotion and communicationactivities’ can be found in the Vilafrancameeting report.Inventory and monitoringof vacant buildings andflatsLegal tools to reactivatevacant buildings and flatsThe inventory and monitoring of vacantbuildings is a vital part of identifyingvacant buildings, determining the need foraction and defining focus areas. A varietyof tools are available for inventory andmonitoring, such as analysis of existingdata, newspaper & internet analysis, sitevisits and vacant property counts,community mapping, or surveys andinterviews with owners, propertymanagers, and tenants. Some goodpractices from the ALT/BAU partners areexplored in the following chapters. Furtherinformation about ‘Inventory andmonitoring’ can be found in the Rigameeting report.Legal tools can cause a strong activationimpulse for the reactivation of vacantbuildings and put the municipality in a moreactive role. Thus, most partners have andapply such tools. Some of them arepresented in this good-practice compilation.Further information about ‘Financial andlegal tools’ can be found in the 1st onlinemeeting report.Matching vacant flats withfinancially weaker tenantsUsing vacant buildings andflats to provide affordablehousingMarketing activities toattract people to vacantbuildingsAffordable housing and housing forfinancially weaker groups is an importanttopic for many ALT/BAU partners and thereactivation of vacant residential buildingsand flats is partly linked to these issues.Some examples are presented in this goodpractice compilation. Further informationcan be found in the Constanta and 2ndonline meeting report.Marketing, promotion andcommunication are important to attractthe attention and interest of owners,potential investors and users who mightinvest in a vacant (derelict) building or toconvey the advantages of selling toowners who are not interested ininvesting. Communication activities canalso be used to convey a betterperspective of the area affected byvacant buildings and the investment10

Inventory andmonitoringof vacantbuildings andflats11

Inventory and monitoringof vacant buildings and flatsVilafranca presents an interestingapproach in which they correlate theirmunicipal registry of inhabitants withdata from the water supply companyto detect and monitor empty flats. Theresults are verified through siteinspections.Further interesting examples in thefield of "Inventory and monitoring"can be found in the ALT/BAUnetwork. Chemnitz follows a verysystematic approach as well andTurin has set up the Future UrbanLegacy Lab, which provides datacollection and mapping of vacantmunicipal properties in Turin,together with the description anddefinition of their “potentialtransformation.”Constanta uses their geographicalinformation system (GIS) with thesupport of the local police departmentto inventory and monitor (vacant)buildings in the historic centre (urbandatabase). They simultaneouslycommunicate with the owners of thebuildings via GIS questionnaires. Theurban database is open to the publicvia a web application.Riga presents an interesting exampleusing the website toallow citizens to map vacant anddegraded buildings and vote on whichbuilding the city should act onurgently.Seraing offers a good example for avery systematic approach byprioritising intervention streets,mapping the vacant buildings throughsite visits and categorising thebuildings to assess intervention needs.12

Correlating water consumptionand municipal census data– Vilafranca del Penedes, SpainPROJECT DESCRIPTIONVilafranca has a relatively high number of empty flats. To detect them, the city correlateswater consumption and municipal census data. This allows an efficient identification ofvacant flats, a process which is repeated every six months.Man, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia CommonsDESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTSThe method was designed by the Regional Government to detect empty flats bycorrelating water consumption and municipal census data.1. City council prepares a list of addresses of flats at which no one is registered in themunicipal census.2. The list is sent to the water supply company who adds a column with the monthlywater consumption. If the water consumption is under 5 m³/ month, this is a strongindication of an empty flat.3. 3. To prove that the flat is empty, inspections are carried out by an inspector of thecity council. Two inspections are done, one directly after the data correlation and one amonth later: the letterbox and consumption of utilities are checked and the neighboursare asked. If the results of both inspections indicate that no one is living there, the flatis declared empty.4. The owner of empty flats are contacted and offered two options:a. If the flat is ready for use, the flat can enter the social rental program with an unpaidloan guarantee by the regional government:b. If the flat needs to be renovated, the flat can enter the program “From empty buildingto social housing”.5. 5. Ultimately, if the above measures have not worked, the administration can fine theowner for non-compliance with the social function of the home according to the lawfor the right to housing.The data correlation is reviewed and updated every 6 months.13

SUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATIONThrough the pro-active approach to owners and the free provision of consulting servicesfor them, the City Council was able to contribute significantly to the reactivation of thevacant flats.To carry out this activity, personnel is needed to create and monitor the database as wellas to continuously communicate and exchange information with other city departments,owners and utility companies.INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: City council of Vilafranca del PenedesKey stakeholders: Housing policies department, urban planning department, owners,water supply company.NEEDED RESOURCESStaff of 2 persons, working time together minimum one day per weekThe staff must be experienced in the field of urban planning, housing policies andcommunicationPROJECT PERIODSince 2017 (ongoing)CONTACT PERSONVilafranca del Penedes townhallEugènia Martí[email protected]

Using geographicinformation system (GIS)– Constanta, RomaniaPROJECT DESCRIPTIONConstanta has a relatively high number of degraded, vacant buildings in its historic citycentre. To identify, inventory and map these buildings as well as to find solutions andmonitor their reactivation, Constanta has created an urban planning database using ageographic information system (GIS – ArcGIS). The use of GIS allows different analyses tobe carried out and results to be visualised using maps. Through the database, relevantinformation about these buildings and their environment are collected, centrallyassembled and made available to relevant stakeholders.DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTSKey components of creating the urban planning database:1. Gathering existing data (technical, historical, cultural and social information, currentsituation and changes) from city hall departments (urban development department,patrimony department, department local police), public service of taxes and fees andautonomous regime of public and private domain exploitation.2. Monitoring physical state and vacancy of buildingsBased on a set of technical criteria (evaluation sheet), the local police departmentclassifies and monitors the degraded buildings in the historic city centre. Owners ofdegraded buildings are notified by the local police and set a deadline for therehabilitation. If the deadline is not respected, the police inform the city hall, which canapply an increased property tax of up to 500 %.15

3. Developing technical datasheets for each building in the target area conducted byjunior architects as volunteers and technical experts from the county department forculture with the help of the owners. A team of volunteer architects maps the buildingsduring a field visit. The inventory results, including information about architecturalstyle, technical situation, building year, type and function of building, height class,construction mode (isolated, coupled or twisted), address and name of owner areinserted into the technical datasheet. In the future, the owner will be able to accessthe technical file to complete or change information.4. Uploading data in ArcGIS desktop application platform, systematising the entriesand periodically updating them;5. Make the database available for owners.The database also contains other indirect information necessary for local administrationefforts for the urban renewal of the historical centre, like: which part of the historic city center’s infrastructure is already rehabilitated and whichwill be rehabilitated in the next years; which buildings are in the city program ”Rehabilitation of the facades and roofs of thebuildings owned by the municipality of Constanta, and under RAEDPP administration”; written proposals submitted by citizens, owners, tenants, NGO’s, and specialistsregarding the urban renewal and safeguarding of the historic city centre.SUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATIONThe involvement of stakeholders in gathering information and assembling the databaseas well as providing relevant stakeholders access to this information strengthens thecapacities of the local stakeholders to become engaged. In addition, the capacity of thelocal authority to analyse the current situation and find solutions is strengthened.INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: Urban development department, City hall of ConstantaKey stakeholders: owners, tenants, residents, institutions, businesses from historic citycentre, buyers, investors, developers, NGOs, artists and commercial firms interested intemporary use.NEEDED RESOURCESTwo inspectors from the Patrimony Department with their work, knowledge andexpertise, Two workstation PC and ArcGIS Pro desktop application in order to construct thedatabase with urban planning information gathered from City Hall departments andpublic institutions Personal for public participation of stakeholdersFURTHER INFORMATION / EXAMPLES IN THE nformation/index.html?appid ndatabase constanta arie/urbanismPROJECT PERIODSince 2018 (ongoing)16CONTACT PERSONCity Hall of Constanţa,Chief architectMihai Radu [email protected]

Participative online mapping‘GRAUSTI.RIGA.LV’– Riga, LatviaPROJECT DESCRIPTIONRiga has a relatively high number of abandoned and degraded buildings. To inventory andmonitor them, the Property Department of Riga has developed the interactive platformand mapping tool The platform allows an active participation of thecitizens in the mapping of degraded buildings and voting on which building(s) the cityshould urgently address. In addition, the citizens can follow updates regarding themapped buildings.DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTS1. Submitting degraded buildings: Via the platform, residents can submit informationabout buildings they think are degraded or ruining the urban environment. Theyprovide the address, comments about the state of the building and any otherinformation they think is relevant. A photo of the building can also be submitted. Inaddition, employees of the Property Department monitor buildings and addinformation if new degraded, abandoned or vacant buildings are identified.2. Site visits: Employees of the Property Department do site visits to confirm theinformation and monitor the buildings.17

3. Mapping degraded buildings: When the information is processed, the submittedbuilding appears on the website’s map.4. Collecting additional data: Employees of the Property Department provide additionalinformation from public registers and internal databases for each mapped building,including photos, type of ownership (private property, municipal property, coownership etc.), cadastral number, whether the building is classified as degradedbuilding and which category (A, B, C), as well as whether the Council has issued aresolution for compulsory renovation (and when and if it is being fulfilled by theowner).5. Putting data online: All data is added to the website. Additionally, the websiteprovides information for property owners about co-funding opportunities for thepreservation of cultural heritage buildings and where to seek professional support forthe renovation of the building.6. Voting: Citizens can vote on buildings (“like” them) for which they want the city tobecome active for their reactivation (i.e. compulsory renovation). The most “liked”buildings appear on a “top 10” list on the website. The voting also helps publicinstitutions prioritize the most endangered buildings or the ones impacting the urbanenvironment most for compulsory renovations or demolition.SUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATION The interactive mapping tool makes the issue and current situation of degraded andvacant buildings visual and raises the awareness about it. It also informs citizensabout the progress or actions taken for the reactivation of the buildings; The public mapping supports the city in the identification of abandoned or degradedbuildings, saving public resources (workforce and financial resources); It is an easy way for the public to report empty buildings; The voting mechanism and “top 10” list works as a shaming tool and puts publicpressure on owners of degraded buildings, motivating them to safeguard theirproperties, especially the ones with heritage value; It encourages property owners to maintain their properties; It enables regular monitoring of buildings submitted to the platform through site visitsby employees.INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: Riga City Council’s Property DepartmentKey stakeholders: CitizensNEEDED RESOURCESThe platform is financed by the Property Department of Riga CityCouncil. It is maintained by several IT and building monitoring division employees of thedepartment as part of their official employment duties.FURTHER INFORMATION /CONTACT PERSONEXAMPLES IN THE WEBCity of Rigawww.grausti.riga.lvVilliams VrobļevskisV[email protected] PERIOD Since 2015 (ongoing)18

Field visits – Categorisation –Collaboration – Seraing, BelgiumA. State of ruin,safety dangerC. Need ofmaintenanceB. Need of heavyrenovationD. Good condition,but vacantPROJECT DESCRIPTIONSeraing has a relatively high number of vacant buildings in need of rehabilitation, butthere is no actual overview. In order to determine the need for action, Eriges carried out afirst inventory of vacant buildings in Seraing. They applied a five-step method to ensure anefficient inventory process.DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTS1. Priority intervention streets: In consultation with the housing and urban developmentcity services, relevant streets have been determined within Seraing’s priorityintervention neighbourhoods of the requalification program of the City (Master Plan).2. Evaluation form and field visit: For the inventory an ‘evaluation form’ was created tocollect relevant information about the vacant buildings during field visits. Theinformation collected includes: Situation/location pictures Information about the building: type of building, facade length, number of floors,commercial ground floor, etc. Condition of the different parts of building (facade, roof, joineries, garden, etc.):good, medium, bad Information that might suggest that the building is vacant or squatted:obscured or broken windows, full mailbox, plants growing on the façade, etc. Neighbourhood information: Any complementary information found by lookingaround in the immediate area, talking with neighbours or looking at informationon attached buildings Any information on current situation: renovation works started, for sale, for rent,etc.3. Categorisation: Based on the information collected, the identified vacant buildings areclassified in one of four categories following the evaluation criteria (s. picture above).4. Collaboration of housing, urban development and tax city services: The housing,urban development and tax city services added further information concerningowners, permits, history of the situation, etc. to the evaluation form.19

5. Mapping of vacant building: The results of the evaluation form were mapped (usinggoogle maps; in future using ArcGIS), pointing out useful data, such as whether thebuilding is for sale, rent, vacant or unhealthy. Different city departments and cityservice providers have access to the data.SUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATIONA good field inventory is the base for all further actions. Think about the method andmeans of long-term updating. Use a digital platform for efficient work, data sharingbetween departments involved and updating i.e., Collectorfor ArcGIS, ODK Collect The categorisation (partly in discussion) allows an increase the building tax depending onthe state of deterioration, an estimate of the range of necessary investment for renovationand which buildings would be suitable for temporary uses/occupation.INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: ErigesKey stakeholders: City of Seraing, housing and urban development departments, studentsNEEDED RESOURCES Trainee or job student for field inventory (1-4 months) Coordinator for coordination of inventory project, organization of meetings with cityservicesPROJECT PERIOD 2019CONTACT PERSONErigesBénédicte [email protected]

Marketingactivities toattract peopleto vacantbuildings21

Marketing activities toattract people to vacantbuildingsVilafranca and Seraing present twosimilar examples of using events to drawresidents’ attention to vacant buildingsand flats in the city and to triggerpotential activitiesVilafranca organises music and familyevents in areas with vacant buildings,whereas Seraing organises annualcultural festivals on a brownfield site.Chemnitz’s ‘Housing agency’ and TurinUrban Lab also have sophisticated localmarketing and communicationapproaches.22

Music and family events– Vilafranca del Penedes, SpainPROJECT DESCRIPTIONProgramming of music and family events on weekends in areas with vacant buildings inorder to attract citizens to these areas and make them aware of the opportunities theseabandoned buildings provide. During the weekend, people can visit the vacant buildingsand appreciate the heritage value. The Vilafranca Housing Agency organises guided tours,while explaining the public rehabilitation programme ‘From empty buildings to socialhousing.’DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPONENTSTo carry out this activity, the city of Vilafranca: Books artists for music and family events (circus, juggling, bouncy castle, music, etc) Communicates with owners to allow access to the buildings for guided tours Publishes information about the programme ‘From empty buildings to social housing‘ Organises guided toursSUCCESS FACTORS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPLICATIONApproaching citizens to raise their awareness about the heritage values of the vacantbuildings and empower them to make use of the opportunities these buildings present.23

INITIATOR & KEY STAKEHOLDERSInitiator: City council of VilafrancaKey stakeholders: Public Housing Agency, urban planning department, owners, potentialinvestors, potential new inhabitants of the buildingsNEEDED RESOURCESStaff of two persons with working time together of minimum one day / weekStaff must be experienced in the field of urban planning, housing policies andcommunicationPROJECT PERIOD Once/twice ayearCONTACT PERSONVilafranca del Penedes townhallEugènia Martí[email protected]

‘USE IN’ festival– Seraing, BelgiumPROJECT DESCRIPTIONA 200-year-old industrial site situated in the heart of Seraing is to be requa

The ‘Housing agency’ provides services to owners and investors free of charge to support them in the reactivation of vacant tenement buildings. The housing agency services are carried out by a local private urban development company, which received this t