This guide is written for use by Pace Law School students, faculty and staff, and contains links to vacant, abandoned, and distressed property law resources, with a focus on finding local land use laws.
Researchers from other institutions should ask their librarians for assistance if they do not have access to the materials noted in this guide.
This research guide is an ongoing project. I would like to thank the staff at Pace's Land Use Law Center for Sustainable Development for their many helpful suggestions regarding websites and topics to include in the guide, and I welcome additional comments/suggestions from anyone who is using this guide.
Many communities are working to deal with the adverse impacts of vacant, abandoned, and distressed properties.
Vacancy can be defined as property that is unoccupied. It is more common in commercial areas, and oftentimes a property is vacant simply because a property owner is holding on to it as a long-term investment. Abandonment, on the other hand, is a far stronger concept. An abandoned property suggests that the owner has ceased to invest any resources in the property, is forgoing all routine maintenance, and is making no further payments on related financial obligations such as mortgages or property taxes. Though the property has been abandoned by the owner, tenants may still occupy it, or squatters may live there without permission.
[A]ll legal strategies dealing with vacant, abandoned, and substandard properties have three key features. The first is the ability to identify at all times the legal owner(s) of the property. The second is to impose legal liability for the financial costs of abandonment. The third is to be able to force a transfer of ownership and control if the problems are not resolved. 
Researchers looking at land use law issues will need to consider federal and state statutes, federal and state cases, and federal and state administrative regulations and decisions. These resources can easily be searched by researchers with access to Westlaw and/or Lexis.
More difficult to locate are the local laws which put into effect the land use plans of local governments, and the planning documents, both local and regional, which inform land use planning.
 Frank S. Alexander & Leslie A. Powell, Neighborhood Stabilization Strategies for Vacant and Abandoned Properties, Zoning and Planning Law Report, Sept. 2011, at 1, 2-4.