City Council approves changes to vacant home registry

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - On Tuesday night, Toledo City Council made changes to the vacant building registry legislation for the city's fight against blight.

Major changes to its vacant residential building registry include entities which file complaints for foreclosure on residential buildings, which may cause a building to become vacant or abandoned. The law requires owners of vacant homes to pay an annual $200 fee to be on the registry, as a way to fund city nuisance inspectors and crews cutting grass on vacant property.

"What it does is it allows the city to go after a bank or whoever files foreclosure action. It gives us information, contact information. It's a great way for sharing information with neighbors," explained Councilman Adam Martinez. "This holds the people that are forcing people out of their homes to be accountable for that property. If you're going to kick people out of their house for whatever reason, you need to maintain it to some standard of level."

The goal of the law is to address health, safety and economic concerns associated with vacant and abandoned properties.

Supporters say it is an important step towards fighting blight in Toledo.

Charlotte Parks lives at the corner of Indiana and Ewing. She says vacant and foreclosed homes are a real drag on efforts to improve her neighborhood.

"I just don't think it's fair to the home owners that are trying to keep up their property," said Parks. "I think it's horrible, because it takes our neighborhoods to pot. Your house values go to pot, but you still pay your taxes."

Martinez says it will also arm the city with information when property conditions begin to suffer.

"For the longest time, the taxpayers were footing the bill for these properties that were just being neglected. So now, again, we have a mechanism where we can hold people accountable and actually charge them a fee for not registering," explained Martinez.

Martinez says the goal is to ultimately improve property conditions and increase property values.

Parks says anything the city can do to help is greatly appreciated.

"The city needs to go after people who are in charge of the property. Some people don't own them, but they vacate them, leave them and then the banks have them they leave them sit and get like the house across the street," said Parks.

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