SJ gets tough on dilapidated foreclosures

March 11, 2009 7:54:01 PM PDT
The city of San Jose is launching a new get tough policy against the banks of foreclosed properties that let those homes become a blight on the neighborhood. Code enforcers will be looking for problems and issuing fines.

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"The conversation with the lender is going to be, you're going to get a citation, if you want to avoid a second citation, you need to visit your property you need to secure it and you need to get it cleaned up," Mike Hannon said. Hannon is the city's top code enforcer.

Hannon says there are more than 4,000 bank-owned homes in city limits. Properties that are unsecured become more than a blight, they become a danger. Transients, teenagers or anyone else can get into the home making it an immediate health and safety issue. The most common problem is simply overgrown weeds.

In some foreclosure situations, the source of the damage is the homeowners that were forced out.

It does not matter where the blight came from, fines to the owner start at $250 and double with each citation.

One community action group trying to stop foreclosures wants even tougher action.

"Aggressive to us means a $1,000 fine a day to all the banks and the loaning institutions, the predatory loaning institutions that have caused this problem," Eduardo Samaniego said.

There are some bank-owned properties in San Jose that are maintained. A spokesperson for an organization representing the nation's banking industry told ABC7, "some cities and states have regulations or laws that require the upkeep of foreclosed properties and most banks abide by those requirements."

In San Jose, Hannon says his inspectors and everyday citizens can hold banks accountable.

"Don't live with these conditions; if you see conditions like this give us a call, we'll be out here in 48 hours we will contact the lender, we'll make sure they get it cleaned up in a timely manner and if they don't we'll get it cleaned up and bill them for those costs," Hannon said.

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