Massachusetts City Decides To Maintain Foreclosures

We’ve written before about cities going after mortgage lenders for failing to properly maintain homes on which they have foreclosed, but one Massachusetts city has decided it’s just easier to fix up these properties, rather than have them fall into disrepair and drag neighborhood home prices down with them.

Earlier this year, the city of Brockton began keeping a registry of abandoned homes. So far, it has around 250 homes in the registry, though the city estimates the total number of abandoned homes is closer to 1,000.

The owners of these properties — banks and other mortgage lenders in most cases — pay an annual fee of $150 into the fund. If the property remains abandoned after 3 years, that number goes up to $1,500.

This gets the banks out of the business of trying to find someone to dependably maintain a property — something many institutions haven’t exactly done a blockbuster job of in recent years. It also allows the city to know that if a registered property falls into disrepair, it only has itself to blame.

And now when someone who lives next door to one of these properties sees the grass growing too high or a dangling rain gutter, they know they can call up the city rather than trying to track down the mortgage lender who likely won’t deal with them since they aren’t a customer.

City Takes Responsibility For Sprucing Up Abandoned Homes [WBZ]


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  1. DaveInBillsburg says:

    $150 per year to maintain houses…no way you can maintain a house for that low of an amount. The city should track all the real costs they incure in maintaining abandoned houses and send the owners on record a itemized bill for the actual costs.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Well it’s not like they are going to be painting or siding them.

      I’m sure all they will do is cut the grass, and in the case of the rain gutter, have someone either just pull it off or tack it back up.

      • jeepguy57 says:

        Until it rains and starts flooding the house since the maintenance guys pulled that gutter off. Six months later there is a mold problem. Now what?

        I actually like the idea in concept. We had a house in my neighborhood go into the foreclosure and it was really an eyesore. Fortunately, some young guys bought it cheap, fixed it up and now live there. But I would have gladly paid into a fund myself to keep the house looking nice had they not bought it. Not my responsibility to do so, but if I could spend a few bucks to save my property value, I would. As long as the person who abandoned the house couldn’t come back and enjoy it on my or the taxpayers dimes.

      • frodolives35 says:

        150$ would not even pay the gas to drive to the property for the season let alone the labor,mower gas, maintenance on equipment etc involved. What a ripoff for the taxpayers of that city.

  2. dush says:

    I wish someone would maintain my yard for only $150 a year.

    • JediZombie says:

      $150 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s not like they are going to mow the lawn every week. They will ‘maybe’ make it once a month, probably less. Also chances are they will leave the back mostly untouched, maintaining the font of the house for appearances and property values only.

    • JediZombie says:

      $150 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s not like they are going to mow the lawn every week. They will ‘maybe’ make it once a month, probably less. Also chances are they will leave the back mostly untouched, maintaining the font of the house for appearances and property values only.

  3. ARP3 says:

    I assume they give the banks a choice, maintain the property or pay the city for upkeep. On the whole, this seems pretty reasonable, but as others have stated, that number seems low. I guess they’re assuming that abandoned house won’t develop problems until year three. That’s a bit dangerous in my view, especially since many houses had very shoddy construction during the height of the boom. I’d say more like $1500 per year flat rate would be more reasonable. That pays for lawncare, to keep it boarded up, and becomes part of an insurance pool major roof/gutter issues.

    • Chill4291 says:

      Brockton is a very old city. The houses being abandoned weren’t built during the boom. The maintenance the town provides will be strictly cosmetic (i.e. cutting the lawn).

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Love it – force the banks to contribute to the maintenance of their own properties, while ensuring neighbors don’t suffer due to the empty home.

  5. Pants O Doom says:

    As someone who has been to Brockton, I think the banks are actually losing a heck of a lot of money on this deal.

    Great concept though.

  6. frodolives35 says:

    If the property was owned by a citizen I wonder how fast they would slap a maintenance lien on the person that owned the property then seize and auction when not paid. This sounds like a bankers give away to me.

  7. BeelzeBob says:

    If the property remains abandoned after three years, the city should seize it and auction it off to someone who will get such a deal that he can afford to fix it up and live in it or sell it.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      I like the way you think. Urban abandoned property can be a major problem, but if you sell it cheap enough, there are people like me who would buy and fix it up for sweat equity.

      • Chill4291 says:

        This economy is hurting Brockton because the people who would have purchased a fixer upper for sweat equity are able to do it in other places. During the boom times Brockton was attracting those type because it was affordable by comparison.

        The people who put sweat equity into their properties want the worst house in the best neighborhood. Brockton is the worst neighborhood in its respective area. And people are just abandoning houses that just aren’t worth it anymore.

        Charging $1500 after 3 years forces the banks hand and motivates them to sell at a loss to avoid loosing more then just taxes.

  8. Geekybiker says:

    Sounds like yet another bank bail out at the expense of the tax payers. No way $150 a year would cover it. Even $150 a month would be cheap.