Securing vacant buildings bylaw

This bylaw is a consolidated digital version of the official legal document. It is not an exact reproduction and is for information purposes only.

For any questions related to this bylaw contact 519-747-8785, 1-866-785-3941 (TTY for deaf), or municipalenforcement@waterloo.ca


Bylaw number: 2016-031
Last passed by council: June 27, 2016


A bylaw to regulate securing vacant buildings in the City of Waterloo

  1. Definitions
  2. Inspection
  3. Owner responsibility
  4. Orders and Enforcement
  5. Buildings damaged by fire
  6. Costs
  7. Provisions 
  8. Fine
  9. Severability 
  10. Coming into force

Whereas the Municipal Act, 2001, S 0. 2001, c. 25, s. 8, provides that the powers of a municipality shall be interpreted broadly so as to confer broad authority on the municipality to enable the municipality to govern its affairs as it considers appropriate and to enhance the municipality's ability to respond to municipal issues;

And whereas the Municipal Act, 2001, S. 0. 2001, c. 25, s. 9, provides that a municipality has the capacity, rights, powers and privileges of a natural person for the purpose of exercising its authority;

And whereas the Municipal Act, 2001, S. 0. 2001 c. 25, s. 11, gives the municipality broad authority to pass bylaws respecting the health, safety, and well-being of persons;

And whereas the Municipal Act, 2001, S. 0. c. 25, s. 128, provides that a local municipality may prohibit and regulate with respect to public nuisances, including matters that, in the opinion of Council, are or could become or cause public nuisances;

And whereas Council of The Corporation of the City of Waterloo is of the opinion that vacant buildings that are not secured against unauthorized entry constitute public nuisances by attracting vandals and creating various safety hazards.

Now therefore the Council of The Corporation of the City of Waterloo enacts as follows:


1.0 Definitions

1.1 In this Bylaw:

"Assistant to the Fire Marshal" shall include: Fire Chief, Deputy Chiefs, Platoon Chief, Acting Platoon Chief, Chief Fire Prevention Officer, Captain Fire Prevention Officer, Public Education Officer, or Fire Prevention Officers.

"Building damaged by fire" shall include a building partially or completely damaged by fire to the extent that it will not be inhabited until it has undergone repairs.

"City" shall mean The Corporation of the City of Waterloo and, where the context allows, shall include its agents and employees.

"Fire Chief" shall mean the Chief of the Waterloo Fire Department and shall include a delegate or delegates thereof.

"Fire Department" shall mean the Waterloo Fire Department.

"Officer" shall mean the Fire Chief, a fire prevention officer, a bylaw enforcement officer, or a municipal law enforcement officer of the City.

"Owner(s)" shall include the registered property owner or agent thereof, a person having or appearing to have beneficial ownership and/or care and control of the property,
and/or an owner as defined by the Building Code Act, 1992.

"Secure(d) against unauthorized entry" may, at the discretion of the City, include boarding of a building as a result of unsecured doors and locks, unsecured windows and locks, and other potential points of entrance and egress. Property fencing may also be required.

"Vacant building" shall include a partially vacant building and a vacant or partially vacant building that is occupied by unauthorized persons or vagrants.


2.0 Inspection 

2.1 No owner or occupant shall have, or permit to have, undesirable material on their Lot.

2.2 Every officer shall be authorized to enforce the provisions of this bylaw.

2.3 Every officer may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether the provisions of this bylaw are being complied with.

2.4 Every officer may require information from any person concerning a matter related to the inspection.


3.0 Owner(s) responsibility

3.1 Every owner shall ensure that a vacant building is secured against unauthorized entry.

3.2 The requirement set out in section 3.1 does not apply to a building, or portion thereof, that is under


4.0 Orders and enforcement

4.1 An officer who believes a building to be a vacant building, may make an order requiring the building to be secured against unauthorized entry.

4.2 An order may set out particulars on the acceptable method(s) of securing the vacant building including a requirement to board. Where, in the sole discretion of the officer, a specific method of securing the property, such as boarding in part or in whole, is required to ensure that the vacant property remains secured against unauthorized entry, the order shall state this requirement.

4.3 An order shall set out the deadline by which the vacant building must be seĀ­ cured. The owner shall have a minimum of two business days to secure the vacant building if the order is hand delivered to the owner. The owner shall have a minimum of five business days to secure the vacant building if the order is only posted.

4.4 An order to secure a vacant building against unauthorized entry may be hand delivered to the owner or posted at the site of the vacant building.

4.5 Every owner shall comply with an order to secure a vacant building against unauthorized entry.

4.6 Where an owner:

(a) expresses an intention not to comply with the order and/or fails to secure the building to the satisfaction of the City by the deadline set out in the order;

(b) the City may cause the building to be secured against unauthorized entry.

4.7 Where, in the opinion of the officer, allowing a vacant building to remain unsecured for even a short period of time presents an unacceptable safety risk, the City may cause the building to be secured against unauthorized entry and no prior notice or order to the owner shall be required. Notice of the action taken in these circumstances shall be posted at the subject property or hand delivered to the owner in a reasonable time thereafter.

4.8 Where the circumstances cannot reasonably allow the property owner to secure the building forthwith, the owner shall ensure that the property is monitored by a responsible person at all times until the building is adequately secured.


5.0 Buildings damaged by fire

5.1 Every owner shall ensure that a building damaged by fire is secured against unauthorized entry, forthwith of release of the relevant property by the authority
having jurisdiction.

5.2 Where an owner has:
(a) expressed an intention not to comply with the requirements of this bylaw; and/or

(b) failed to secure a building damaged by fire when directed to do so, the City may cause the building damaged by fire to be secured against unauthorized entry.


6.0 Costs

6.1 Where the City has undertaken action to secure against unauthorized entry pursuant to this bylaw, the work will be completed at the expense of the owner.

6.2 If the owner fails to pay the cost of work completed under this bylaw within thirty days of the work being completed, the amount shall be added to the tax roll of the subject property and collected in the same manner as property taxes.


7.0 General provisions

7.1 Where a vacant building or a building damaged by fire is boarded or required to be boarded, the boarding materials shall be installed and maintained in good repair and, unless inherently resistant to deterioration, boarding materials shall be treated with a protective coating of paint or equivalent weather-resistant material.

7.2 Where an officer finds that measures taken pursuant to an order have been insufficient to keep a vacant building secured against unauthorized entry, subsequent orders may be issued requiring additional measures to be taken by the owner.


8.0 Fine

Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw is guilty of an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000), exclusive of costs, pursuant to the Provincial Offences Act.


9.0 Severability

Each and every of the provisions of this bylaw is severable and if any provision of this bylaw should for any reason be declared invalid by any court, it is the intention and desire of this Council that each and every of the then remaining provisions hereof shall remain in full force and effect.


10.0 Coming into force  

This bylaw shall come into force and effect on the date of its final passing.


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