Lavelle introduces vacant property registry bill

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R. DANIEL LAVELLE

 

With the battle over how best to deal with blighted properties continuing in Pittsburgh’s East End communities, city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle has introduced legislation aimed at preventing more abandoned and foreclosed properties from adding to the problem.

The bill, introduced by fellow Councilman Bruce Kraus at the July 2 council meeting, calls for creditors to be held responsible for the condition of their abandoned and foreclosed properties in the city.

“It’s an additional tool to help the city hold banks and mortgage lenders accountable for the maintenance of abandoned homes on which foreclosure proceedings have begun,” he said.

Under the new ordinance, once foreclosure proceedings begin, the creditor must perform regular exterior inspections to determine if the residence has been abandoned. If it has, the creditor must register the property with the Bureau of Building Inspection, for $250, and renew the registration annually, for $25, until the property is no longer abandoned.

During that time, the creditor must maintain the property to City Building Code standards, and must maintain it by securing the property, cutting overgrown vegetation, and generally keeping the property clear of trash and debris.

“Holding lenders and mortgage servicers responsible for maintaining abandoned homes and properties can save them from further deterioration,” said Lavelle. “It also incentivizes them to return the properties to productive use.”

Lavelle’s legislative assistant Daniel Wood said the ordinance addresses a loophole that is often exploited by lenders when properties are abandoned.

“A lot of times, creditors will start proceedings, and then once the property is abandoned, they stop. That leaves the owner’s name on the property,” said Wood. “This legislation requires registration by the creditor once the property is determined to be abandoned.”

The bill has been referred to committee. If passed it would become effective within 30 days.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburgh­courier.com.)

 

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