Stockton City Council Requires Owners of vacated homes to maintain them

Stockton Vacant and Abandoned Property Policy

In an attempt to eliminate the broken windows, brown yards, and overall disrepair of a slew of foreclosed homes in Stockton, the City Council passed an ordnance requiring banks and other out of town property owners to employ contractors to keep up these vacant homes they have title to. The Mayor stated it was a proactive movement on the part of Stockton.

The council's vacant and abandoned property policy was passed to put the pressure on lenders and other vacant property owners to take care of houses sitting vacant although in the early foreclosure stages, many times several months prior to a final foreclosure.

Distressed Property

The ordinance has no cost to the city, officials said. The city plans to provide blighted addresses to research companies to discover the owners of these properties. These companies would then provide city's code enforcement the names and addresses of the owners of these properties. The companies gain an advantage from their capability to get in touch with property owners and, with the knowledge that City Hall is breathing down their neck, attempt to have the owners hire them to maintain the properties.

Owners of property who fail to properly maintain their vacant houses, lots, or commercial buildings could be looking at daily fines as high as $1,000.

Lenders have concerns about the legal ramifications of requiring organizations that have lien holder rights although they have not yet obtained legal possession of a vacant property. The requirements could give a lender to trespass liability

The ordinance goes on to define an owner as any person or organization who owns a deed of trust or mortgage on a property saying Whoever is responsible for a property must maintain it

A small number of other California communities, including Chula Vista and Riverside County have adopted ordinances that are similar.

Stockton was one of the hardest hit cities from the nationwide foreclosure crisis. At one time, Stockton had 4,000 or 5,000 vacated properties in in some sort of foreclosure. Aug 8, 2011

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