Bill Could be Useful Tool in Property Maintenance
On July 22, standardspeaker.com posted an article discussing PA HB 795 (former HB 853 of 2013-14), a piece of proposed legislation currently in the Pennsylvania Assembly that would address property registration and maintenance.
Bill could be useful tool in property maintenance
A municipal solicitor in numerous communities, Donald Karpowich sees a bill recently introduced in the state House as a useful tool to deal with property maintenance issues on foreclosed properties.
House Bill 795, which was introduced by Rep. Tina M. Davis, D-141, and is co-sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, would force lenders to register and maintain properties they foreclose on.
“This bill … requires the entity foreclosing on the property to be required to maintain the property and keep it habitable,” Toohil said. “There are a great many constituents who lose their homes and are forced to leave and then the property sits vacant for over five years. The property becomes uninhabitable and dilapidated.
“When they become blighted and are abandoned, it then effects the entire community,” she said.
Karpowich dealt with issues regarding properties in Black Creek Township and Freeland Borough, where he serves as solicitor, he said.
Neither the bank nor ousted homeowners would take responsibility for the properties, leaving them further deteriorate and forcing the communities to take action on their own, he said.
“This usually occurs once the creditor learns of the condition of the property and its code violations,” Karpowich said. “The municipality is then in a position to try to seek compliance under the code for the violation by the creditor or owner.”
House Bill 795 protects against this situation by requiring registration of the property within seven days of the foreclosure, maintenance of the property, reimbursement to municipality for maintenance it performs and the appointment of person within 20 miles who is responsible for the property, he said.
In Freeland, the bank foreclosed on the property, which had code or quality of life issues, and neither the owner or bank would do anything, because neither claimed ownership, said borough Council President Dave Mahon.
“It left the municipality in limbo,” he said.
The bank eventually turned over the property, which became a sore spot in the neighborhood, to the borough, Mahon said. But it took years, and the borough Business and Development Authority now owns the property, he said.
In Black Creek, the foreclosed property sat vacant for more than three years and continued to deteriorate, causing neighbors to complain, supervisors Dennis Feerrar and Bonnie Adams said. The bank backed off on the foreclosure, the house went up for sheriff’s sale, but no one purchased it because of back taxes, they said.
The township took the property, hoping to have the taxes abated, they said. The county and school board only forgave one year in taxes, leaving the township with the remainder, they said.
At this point, they don’t know how much the final cost to the township will be, they said.
Please click here to view the article online.
Please click here to view proposed text of HB 795 [pdf].
Please click here to view a related Memo from the bill sponsor.
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