After a three-month delay, the city of Dayton is about to launch a program requiring financial institutions to register any vacant foreclosed homes they own with the city, and to maintain those abandoned homes in good condition, under penalty of civil fines.
“I think it will hold the banks to a higher standard than our current ordinance requires, and second and more importantly, our folks in code enforcement will know a local contact to talk to when a certain property needs to be addressed (immediately),” said Aaron Sorrell, the city’s director of planning and community development.
Sorrell said the city already notified many banks and mortgage servicers that the ordinance — passed last week — was coming. He said hundreds of other cities nationwide have similar programs, so it won’t come as a shock.
“Our registration fees and fines aren’t out of line with any of the others, so there was relatively low push-back,” Sorrell said, adding that he expects 500 to 700 homes to be registered.
City Commissioner Dean Lovelace, who objected to some wording in the original ordinance back in May, said he’s pleased with the revised version, adding that it should clean up some of the “rathole” houses that are a drain on neighborhoods.
“It’s key to have a person in control named (for each property), someone that you can tie down. Otherwise you can spend years looking for someone,” Lovelace said. “Now, if they’re responsible — and we know folks aren’t always responsible — something like this will (help). And if not, we can put a little pressure on them.”
The ordinance requires that grounds are kept litter-free, with grass no higher than 8 inches. Broken windows and doors that face the street will have to be replaced rather than just boarded over, among other requirements.
Each day that a property fails to meet those standards would be a separate violation, with no warning period required, and a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation. Banks will pay an initial registration fee of $250 per house, and an annual fee of $50.
Sorrell said the approved ordinance cleans up some poor wording from the May version to ensure that only vacant, abandoned, bank-owned properties are affected. The other change was to limit the ordinance to six zip codes — 45402, 45403, 45405, 45406, 45410 and 45417 — where the city will get the most return on its investment of time.