Every year the city auctions off property (both lots and structures) when the property owner fails to pay municipal fees, like water bills and property taxes. Many of these parcels are owned by people who have no idea what to do, in order to save their homes. There is help available, for those who need it.
However, it’s always interesting to see how many investor-owned properties, many of which are blighted vacants, end up on the tax sale list. The 2015 list contains a total of 28,857 properties. The liens range from a low of $250 to a high of $1,814,710. Of these properties, 3,743 are owned by LLCs, many of them forfeited (The most notable LLC name has to be Bump Bump Wump of Gump, LLC. Catchy…but forfeited, and they owe $16,128 on a house on Springdale Avenue. Another chunk of properties are owned by corporations, trusts, and other entities — add those to the LLCs and it makes up about a quarter to one third of the list overall.
The usual suspects are on the list, too: Holabird Investments, CE Realty (27 properties), Stanley Rochkind through his various shell companies (65 properties with liens on them), John Reiff, Anthony Delaurentis and John Reid — under their various shell companies, they have over 70 properties listed. Various Skyline entities own 176 properties on the list, and Rex Frost has a mere six. The Mayor and City Council are on the hook for 18 properties, one of which has a lien on it for over $104,000 — 2103 Hollins Street, which is a blighted vacant probably not worth much more than $5000.
Seeing all of these properties on the list gives me hope that perhaps they’ll be purchased by someone who will fix them up and do good things with them. I think two thirds of my neighborhood is on the list — at least half. Just one more piece of the fallout from the mortgage bust, and what happens when predatory buyers swoop in and purchase properties with the hopes of getting rich quick.
Here’s the full list, for those who might be interested in becoming responsible property owners. Good luck, and best of luck to those who are trying to save their homes — make sure you avail yourself of the workshops offering legal help — the first one is this coming Saturday!