Letting banks off the hook for abandoned properties? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Letting banks off the hook for abandoned properties?

By Chuck Weber email

WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX)-Abandoned and foreclosed homes are a blight on our neighborhoods. So who pays to fix them up?

Bankers have proposed legislation in Tallahassee that would relieve them of any responsibility for the homes upkeep, until banks take ownership. Renee Thompson, spokeswoman for the Florida Bankers Association, says banks fear safety and legal problems if they work on properties they don't yet own.

But local cities and counties say the proposed legislation would amount to an un-funded mandate for them. Wellington Assistant Village Manager John Bonde said, "I would think the responsibility goes more with the bank or its lender than with the residents of Wellington. Remember the federal government just gave the banks a whole lot of money and we thought that would be part of their responsibility."

Last year Wellington formed a new code abatement team and hired two new employees just to keep up with abandoned properties. Assistant Village Manager Bonde estimated 100 homes are now being maintained by the Village. He figures Wellington is incurring an additional $100,000 in annual expenses.

The Village likely will recover most of the money by putting liens on the properties. But if the new legislation passes, Assistant Village Manager Bonde says local governments will have at the least, more upfront costs.

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