City of Brunswick Taking Steps to Reinhabit Vacant Homes

On October 1, Cleveland.com published an article entitled Brunswick Officials Taking Steps to Fill Vacant Homes.  In November, the Brunswick (Ohio) building committee will present new legislation, amending the current VPR legislation, which would require the property owner to present a plan and timeframe for reinhabiting the house.

Brunswick officials taking steps to fill vacant homes

BRUNSWICK City officials are considering adding legislation in efforts to monitor and ultimately reduce residential vacancies.

A 2011 ordinance requires property owners to register with the city when a house becomes vacant. While an effective property maintenance tool, City Manager James Lukas said the ordinance does little to encourage property owners to put the house back on the market.

"There are about 215 vacant homes in the city, which statistically is not a lot -- unless you live next door," Lukas said. "Having houses sit vacant puts a burden on the whole neighborhood."

The proposed legislation, which is expected to be presented to the city’s building committee next month, would require the property owner -- an individual or bank -- to present a plan for re-inhabiting the house within a predetermined amount of time.

Like its companion foreclosure-registration ordinance, the new legislation is in essence a property maintenance tool, Lukas said, allowing the city to keep in contact with the party responsible for upkeep of the property throughout -- and beyond -- the foreclosure process.

Enforcement of the new ordinance would be done by the building department.
"We get calls from residents when there are property maintenance issues," Lukas said. "So I don’t see a problem with enforcement."

The city’s increased enforcement efforts over the past year have had an impact, with the amount of warning letters to property owners regarding maintenance issues such as high grass and weeds dropping by as much as a third.

Taking steps to ensure the property does not remain vacant indefinitely is the primary goal of the new legislation, Lukas said.

"There are also a lot of banks, in particular, that aren’t proceeding to the foreclosure process," he said. "And just leaving the houses vacant."

To view the online article, please click here.

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