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April 24, 2014

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NLV eyes home upkeep rules to fight foreclosure blight

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Sam Morris / FILE

Local governments are dealing in different ways with owners that won’t maintain homes, like this one with a neglected pool, after foreclosures.

North Las Vegas has proposed a new ordinance that is designed to help the city reduce its collection of mangy, deteriorating foreclosed homes.

Following in the footsteps of Las Vegas and other cities across the country, the law would require all homeowners in foreclosure to register with the city and post contact information on the property. They must then maintain the home’s landscaping and pools, as well as secure the home from access to unauthorized people. Those who fail to comply could face criminal prosecution.

Councilwoman Anita Wood of Ward 3 said deteriorating foreclosed homes have been a constant issue for the city. The city discussed the ordinance in early 2011, but it waited to see how it held up in Las Vegas. After seeing it succeed, Wood said the city felt it was time to propose its own version. It will be voted on at the next city council meeting on Oct. 17.

“Now it’s like ‘OK … (the ordinance) is working in Las Vegas,’” Wood said. “So it's just been that push to say, ‘We’ve waited long enough, let’s get it rolling.'”

North Las Vegas has been hit harder by the housing crash than most cities. A survey conducted by foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac found that 1 in every 267 homes in the city received a foreclosure filing in August. The rate is higher than both Henderson and Las Vegas.

Wood said neglected foreclosed homes could decrease property values for nearby homeowners. She hears complaints from residents all the time about deteriorating properties, but with no easy way to track a person responsible for the home, it takes longer to correct the issue. Wood said this ordinance could help fix that issue.

“It is time-consuming when (housing code enforcement officials) have to spend time trying to figure out where the property owner is, and go through the whole mystery,” Wood said. “When we have that information easily accessible, I think the process will happen so much easier.”

The ordinance also runs congruent to the city’s beautification goal in its five-year strategic plan.

“For (city council members), it's all about keeping the beauty of the city up and maintaining property values,” Wood said.

If passed, the ordinance would impact homes that are foreclosed after Oct. 17. Previously foreclosed homes do not fall would not be affected.

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  1. Send city workers out to clean up and bill the owner(s) of record. Those on the title have a vested interest. The city should pass an ordinance that holds the lender liable and responsible for condition and upkeep as long as they're on the title, if it doesn't already have one. Owners that occupy and vacate, intentionally leaving a property in a deteriorated condition that doesn't meet city code should be cited, fined and chased down for prosecution. Misdemeanor or felony charges should be levied according to the cost of cleanup and repairs.

    Owners that deliberately stop taking care of their home when it becomes apparent they no longer can comply with contractual agreements and damage or allow it to deteriorate in a measurable material way need to be held accountable. Lien holders should make contact when accounts become delinquent to the point that future occupancy is in doubt and apply what pressure or encouragement they can to prevent this to include assisting in a reasonable way. The days of living in a home rent free for months to more than a year and destroying the place before walking away have to come to an end. Likewise, any owner/lender allowing its properties to deteriorate when no longer occupied need to be held accountable. If willing to take the risk and reward on a mortgage/lease, they should be willing to protect the property occupied or not. Any person or business who lacks the moral grounding and integrity to know this should at least have the personal or professional pride to do what they can to prevent deterioration. Owners should ask for help if needed. One should at least make an effort.

    I'm big on personal freedom and keeping government and others out of our lives but this has become a health and safety issue that affects the community as a whole. Be a real citizen, living up to ones responsibilities to the best of ones ability and being accountable for ones actions should be routine. Those who don't aren't real citizens and don't deserve the same consideration as those who do.

  2. Anyone think someone who just suffered a foreclosure has money to dump in to a house they can no longer reside in and no longer own because it's been reposesed by a a bank? You think they should be accountable to come back and make sure no one's breaking in when they no longer have keys to it themselves?

    Sorry, not buying it. A lot of people who owned homes move out of state to go live with family and financially recover. Sad state. Truth, hold the lenders accountable once a home is taken back in a foreclosure, not a former home owner.