Posted from Housing Policy Watch:
Introduced in the Baltimore City Council by Councilman Henry (District 4), this bill would expand the definition of vacant houses, giving Baltimore Housing the ability to levy fines against blighted nuisance properties faster, and impose harsher penalties against owners who did not comply. (Source: WBAL)
Many of our vacant structures are owned by absentee landlords, banks, or holding companies that have no plans to fix the problems — and have allowed these homes to fall into disrepair. Expanding the city’s ability to fine these owners and hold them accountable should go a long way towards cleaning up some of our blighted neighborhoods.
Two things that also need to happen before January when the bill goes to a vote, in order for this to be a success:
- The bill, once law, needs to be enforced. That could mean a line-item increase in Baltimore Housing’s budget for additional qualified housing inspectors.
- If these properties are sold at a municipal tax sale when the owners don’t pay the fines, there needs to be strict vetting of the people purchasing the homes, as to not further the chain of irresponsible ownership.
If the city is prepared to do these two things, let’s support this bill and make sure it becomes law. Contact your City Council representative and let them know you want this to pass — and let them know you expect there to be a clear plan for disposition of the properties, once seized.
For City Council district contact information, go here.