New Ordinance Aims to Hold Banks Responsible for Vacant Properties

City leaders plan to create a new registry to help the city better track vacant properties and ensure they’re maintained.

The city has over 16,000 abandoned properties. In some neighborhoods, up to a third of the houses are vacant. A proposed ordinance would create a city registry to track foreclosed properties and levy fines on banks that are not following regulations. Whenever banks foreclose on a home, they’ll be required to give the city notice and information on who is responsible for maintaining the property. 

“Generally, once the banks acknowledge that they are responsible for the properties they do a pretty good job of maintaining the properties. The ones where we have a lot of issues are when it’s in this no man’s land where we’re still fining and still citing a property owner who has already walked away from the property,” says Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12, who is sponsoring the ordinance. 

The ordinance will require financial institutions to register properties with the Department of Codes and Regulations upon filing a foreclosure action with the court. It will include the address of the foreclosed property and a person the city can contact when there are issues such as overgrown grass and broken windows.

The bank that fail to register their properties with Metro Government will be fined $100.

The city has taken a more active role against vacant and abandoned homes this year, with the Metro Council dedicating a committee to the issue. Today, Mayor Greg Fischer joined Blackwell in the city’s South End to announce the new proposal.

“This isn’t a simple solution to the problem,” says Blackwell. “There are lots of layers of issues, and it won’t address everything.  But I do think it will make it easier for the inspectors to know who is ultimately responsible for the property.”

Earlier this year, the state allocated $3.2 million to Metro Government to deal with vacant and abandoned properties. According to the city, Metro Government spent $12 million in the last decade on abandoned properties, performing tasks such as boarding windows and cutting grass. 

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