Who Owns Your Garden?
If you are gardening on a vacant lot (or interested in doing so), you must get the owner's permission. In many cases, you can take ownership of the lot to ensure that you can continue to garden on the property.
Step 1. Find out who owns the lot.
NGA can help you determine who the owner is. You must know the address of the lot. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the NGA office at (215)988-8797.
Step 2. Get permission to garden or take ownership of the property
If the lot is city owned, you must get permission from the city to garden on the land or apply to acquire the lot at far market value.
To apply for permission, go to the Redevelopment Authority (RDA) Central Intake Unit (1234 Market Street, 16th Floor) and fill out the city application. It is also a good idea to notify your district Council person that you are in the process of applying for a city-owned property. You will need his/her support if you want to purchase the lot.
If the lot is privately owned....
If the lot is privately owned, send a certified letter to the owner asking for permission to garden on the land.
You should also ask about the owner's long term plans for the lot (i.e. are they planning on selling/developing the land).
In many cases you can't locate the owner. It may be possible to acquire the land via Sheriff's Sale. To do so, the property must be vacant and tax delinquent.
View our guide: Sheriff Sale - Instructions For Community Gardeners
For information about the Sheriff Sale Process, call the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office: 686-3534 x3535 Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Or visit their Web site: www.phillysheriff.com
Each month, the City of Philadelphia holds a Sheriff Sale of privately owned properties that are vacant and tax delinquent. Notice of the date of sale and properties to be sold is posted in local newspapers.
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