Abandoned and Vacant Property Registration
With the growing number of foreclosures throughout the county, many cities, both large and small, have enacted ordinances to combat the problem of abandoned, distressed and vacant property. The ordinances are designed to protect residential neighborhoods from becoming blighted through the absence of adequate maintenance and security and to prevent crime and vandalism.
Many of these ordinances require the holder of the mortgage or deed of trust on the property or the lender (collectively the “holder”) to register the property with the appropriate local authority, such as a community development department or a city building official, after the holder determines that the property is abandoned. Common Definitions To understand these ordinances, understanding the legal definitions of certain property types is needed. “Abandoned property” is a residential property that is vacant and under a current notice of default or notice of sale, or is vacant and has been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was retained by the holder of the mortgage or deed of trust involved in the foreclosure and any property transferred under a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and sale.
“Building, dwelling or structure” means any building or structure used and occupied for human habitation, commercial, industrial or business uses, or intended to be so used.
“Distressed property” is a residential property that is occupied by a person having the right to use or having right of possession of the property and under a current notice of default or notice of sale, or has been foreclosed upon by the person holding the mortgage or deed of trust or has been conveyed to the holder of the mortgage or the deed of trust under a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and sale.
“Evidence of vacancy” means any condition that alone or combined with other present conditions would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the property is vacant. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:
The holder must inspect the property before filing a notice of default. If after the inspection the holder determines that the property is vacant or shows evidence of vacancy, the property is deemed abandoned. The holder must register the property with the appropriate authority within 10 days of the investigation. If the holder fails to register the property, the city may register the property and charge the registration fees to the holder. Additionally, the holder must inspect distressed property on a monthly basis until the default is resolved or, if the property was previously occupied, when the property is vacated.
Common registration requirements are: