February 11, 2011 (Shirley Allen)
The city of Atlanta has started charging homeowners and creditors fees for abandoned properties along with requiring those homes to be registered with the city. The registries are to help local government’s better track the owner or financial institution responsible for abandoned homes in the area. Some local governments may require owners to fix shattered windows or keep the grass mowed if the abandoned property starts to become a neighborhood eyesore.
Vacant homes are often viewed as breeding grounds for crime and also can lower property values of surrounding homes if they are not maintained. As we have previously reported here about some of the challenges facing urban areas like Chicago, the continuing economic downturn and the problem with vacant and abandoned homes has forced many cities to find ways to deal with this growing problems.
Already two metro Atlanta counties and several area municipalities already have the abandoned property registries in place and several other counties and cities in the area are also considering similar legislation.
In Loganville, Ga., an ordinance requires owners to pay a $100 annual fee on a vacant home. In DeKalb County, creditors have to register foreclosed properties with the county and pay a $175 fee. Violators face a $1,000 a day fine for not complying.
“I think every local government’s preference would be that those properties not be vacant,” says Amy Henderson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association. “Vacant properties affect the quality of life in your community and property values of surrounding properties, so cities obviously want to prevent or mitigate some of that.”
The idea of charging fees for abandoned properties is not new. The city of San Francisco has had such a law on the books for some time now, but before the people in Loganville complain about the cost in their city, in San Francisco it can run as high as $6,885.
Tags: Atlanta, abandoned properties, vacant homes, home registration fee