The best safety measure for holding on to a vacant lot is becoming the owner of it. While the cost of a vacant lot varies by size of the lot, location, and suitability for development, there are many lots to choose from in Allegheny County. If you’re not willing or able to purchase a lot on your own, ask your local community group if they would be interested in taking it on.
The most important thing to know is that the process for acquiring a vacant lot depends on the current owner and tax-status of a lot, and it can take up to 2 years to get ownership of a lot in some cases. (If you’re not sure of the owner or tax status of a lot, go back to the home page and select the lot you’re working on. Info will pop up on the right side of the screen.) Knowing the property owner will help you to determine how to acquire the property.
Look through the sections below for the information that applies to your lot.
Owned by the City of Pittsburgh
The City of Pittsburgh owns 26%, or approximately 7300 vacant lots. This places a great deal of burden on the City to maintain that land, so it is a good service to take ownership of a vacant lot. However, the purchase of vacant land is not for the faint-of-heart… the process can take up to 2 years, so make sure you are really committed. To read about the necessary processes directly from the City website, follow this link.
SIDE YARD SALE
The cost of purchasing a vacant lot from the City is significantly reduced if you live adjacent to the property and use the Side Yard Sale program. If you’re hoping to purchase a lot adjacent to your house, first read through this document to make sure you have everything you need. Then fill out a Request to Purchase Form and send it to the address listed under “General Lot Purchase”. After sending the form, make sure to follow the process explained on the The Side Yard Sale Program document.
GENERAL LOT PURCHASE
For lots not adjacent to your home, begin by filling out a Request to Purchase Form and send it to the following address:
TTB Request to Purchase
Department of Finance
City of Pittsburgh
414 Grant Street, 1st Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2476
Next, follow the process explained in the document “Procedures for Purchasing Property Through Court Auction Sales“.
Owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority
The URA is responsible for the acquisition and disposition of various properties for the purpose of assembling sites for redevelopment. It also acts as agent for the City of Pittsburgh in assembling properties for City-sponsored projects. If you are interested in purchasing a URA owned property, please complete an online application here. You must be current on all taxes, water, and sewer charges for any property currently owned. Once the URA receives a written request, URA staff will contact you and begin a due diligence process on the property. A comprehensive listing of URA owned properties and parcels is available here. The URA reserves the right to remove any property from this list at any time for any reason, without notice.
For more information about purchasing property owned by the URA, contact Ms. Claren Healey at 412.255.6568 or Click to email
This information is from the URA Website (www.ura.org).
Privately owned and tax delinquent
Many lots in Allegheny County are privately owned and tax delinquent. They are overgrown with weeds and become dumping grounds, exuding a sense of neglect. The process to purchase such properties can take up to two years, but it is a worthy cause!
In Pittsburgh, in order to acquire a tax-delinquent lot, you must request that the City seizes the property in a Treasurer’s Sale. You can learn more about that process by clicking this link. To speak with someone about putting a property on the Treasurer’s Sale list, use the following contact info:
City of Pittsburgh, Real Estate Office
414 Grant Street, First floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
If the lot you’d like to work on is outside of Pittsburgh, start by contacting your municipality’s Real Estate or Treasurer’s Office to learn how to follow the correct process.
While there isn’t much you can do to acquire privately owned lots that are up-to-date on their taxes, you can go the route of simply asking the owner if they are interested in selling the lot.
If you are familiar with the property owner or can easily get in contact with them, you’re in luck! Call up the owner or send an email to introduce yourself and your interest in their lot. They may be eager to sell the lot if they had no plans for it.
If, however, you do not know the owner personally, you can find their contact info by searching the Allegheny County Assessment website. Type in the Parcel ID found on the Lots to Love map into the fields on the assessment website and click SEARCH. Scroll down, and you will find the owner’s mailing address. Send a letter or visit the address to explain your request to the owner.