A Primer on HB2188 – Conservatorship for Abandoned Properties
posted by: Cindy Daley
05-04-2010 @ 10:46 am
In small cities, large cities, and rural towns throughout the state, 300,000 buildings stand vacant. Too often properties sit vacant because the tools for dealing with them are not appropriate for the job. The tax sale process is too unpredictable; there is no control over what will happen to the property once it is purchased. Conservatorship allows a community to take control of its future by addressing the problem of abandonment.
The conservatorship act is a useful tool, but limited one, for communities and residents, It stops short of being a full solution in dealing with abandoned houses. Communities plagued by abandoned property often do not have the money to rehab these properties in high disrepair. If I a reading this act right, to take conservatorship of an abandoned property one must be able to show that they can actually rehab the place. Its difficult to find financing if clear title is not granted before the rehabbing takes place. This is a major obstacle to small groups in the most affected communities.
Viola Street Residents Association.
I couldn’t agree more, J. Smith. One of the biggest problems to clearing out all the abandoned parcels is not only the cost to purchase them and put them into use, but as a result of NTI and other building demolition activities (admittedly necessary), many lots have liens on them in amounts far in excess of the value of the property. Our efforts to work with the Law Department have been largely unsuccessful in reducing these liens (which increase yearly with interest, penalties and other fees), as the Law Department generally is unswayed by economic realities and is apparently holding out for a massive recovery, under which the value of these lots will increase in value sufficient to satisfy the liens.
The fact is, whatever costs the City expended in knocking down these buildings (as any student of Economics 101 will tell you) are SUNK COSTS. As in spent, maybe never to be recouped. The City needs to draft a policy to deal with this issue rather than let these properties sit vacant, further destroying blocks and neighborhoods, and tearing the fabric of our city.
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