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Prince George's Continues to Battle Vacant Homes

Prince George's County has enacted a new law that requires vacant houses to be registered so that the county can better keep track of homes emptying because of the foreclosure crisis before they become eyesores or havens for crime and vandalism.

The legislation, sponsored by Council Member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville), goes into effect Aug. 21, after which the person responsible for a vacant property must register it with the county's Department of Environmental Resources. A penalty of $50 will be assessed for each day the property is not registered.

"Usually we don't find out about vacant properties until people complain about them," Campos said. "We can go ahead and be proactive."

The county also recently began earmarking millions in federal dollars to help new homeowners purchase some of the county's vacant homes.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  August 7, 2009; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Will Campos has the right idea. This vacant properties will have to be maintained in order to move them quickly back to taxpaying properties.

I hope that the penalizations will be done in a moderate fashion aiming at compliance rather than punative. The goal is to move forward, not to be a source of income for the county.

Posted by: morgangale | August 7, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

EXCELLENT!!! Now this is what I call being proactive...

Posted by: demtse | August 7, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Within 2 miles of my house there are 5 abandoned homes, some with the door kicked in and/or broken windows.
What would be nice if there was someway that after several months the property could be had for a few dollars.
But then it would probably be abused.

Posted by: edlharris | August 7, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

So a person is in foreclosure, abandons his home because he has no money and then the county expects him to pay a 50.00 fine? Give me a break! What a boneheaded, stupid idea. How about lowering the property taxes and you'd have fewer abandoned homes? I'm still trying to figure out how my home was assesed at a higher value this year when every other home in America is falling in value. Effin crooks!

Posted by: PepperDr | August 7, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

As another poster indicated that when people are in the process of foreclosure they do not need to be kicked in the teeth with a $50 per day fine for good measure. They are already down for the count and now the county wants to pile on with a fine. Perhaps they could assess a one-time registration of $100 and have employees check on the properties condition on a regular basis. When the property is unkempt the owner[s] would be noticed and given the opportunity to bring it up to covenant standards. If the county wants to control costs I move that all employees making over $100,000 either be cut by 20% or pay a county tax of 20% additional tax on income, that Johnson and his assistant return their “private security guards” our taxpayer funded police back to street duty instead of having us pay for their security saving the taxpayer money and putting more police on the street instantly. Have all employees who use county vehicles while not on duty pay for the mileage, fuel and maintenance costs for all mileage accrued while not on duty. Of course with Pee Gee’s notorious reputation for abuse nothing requiring reason would ever be imposed to treat people fairly or curb the abuses by government officials and employees on the top end of the pay scale. My taxes continue to rise also while the housing market contracts. The entire administration is corrupt, inept and incompetent. They will continue to heap more taxes on the property owners until their backs are broken! This county is a laughing stock and a sick joke imposed by its administration. I can’t wait until I can sell my home and get out of here!

Posted by: OhBrother67 | August 7, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Why should there be a new law?? There is a foreclosure the party taking control owns the property. A new HOMEOWNER. Homeowners a responsible for the upkeep i.e. lawnmowing, painting, snow removeal and most improtantly, TAXES. There should be NO loss in tax revenue. The bank or mortgage company own the property.

Posted by: doughboy96 | August 7, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I think the law is well intentioned, BUT I must say...........If someone lost there home to foreclosure how can they maintain the upkeep of the property they don't legally own???? Hell they might be living in a homeless shelter by now?? AND ISN'T THE BANK THE NEW OWNER OF HOME NOW ??

If my car was to get repossessed do you expect me to wax and polish it before the bank auctions it ??? after the snatch man takes it ??

Posted by: dhoke99 | August 7, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

You know after reading the article again, it says the owner of the vacant property is responsible for the upkeep of the property. So that has to mean the bank or mortgage lender !! I would think that means owners of property that are vacant due to being in a shambles and not living there or property fallen behind because they dont have renters.

Posted by: dhoke99 | August 7, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I got an idea. Instead of kicking the folks out of their homes, why don't the banks actually work with the homeowner to refinance. The homeowner stays in the home and the neighborhood doesn't go downhill.

Posted by: epjd | August 7, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The owner of the property could either be the homeowner or former homeowner, the bank, or the new buyer.

This law has good intentions but it is inept. Here's why....

It can take almost six months for a foreclosure to be completed in P.G. County. In that time, title can change hands at any time. If the bank takes title to the property, it may be difficult for them to determine if the property is vacant or not. If a few items are left in the property, they'd have to file for eviction which could take another three months (even if there is no objection). During that time, should the bank be penalized?

And, what constitutes "vacant". I've bought numerous foreclosures (at auction) and sometimes the owner leaves personal items in the house and he/she comes back and forth to the house to retrieve things (like mail) or move furniture. But, technically, it's not vacant.

What an ill conceived law!

Posted by: jpost2000 | August 7, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Since when was it the government's business what I am doing with my house? They have no right to know if I or anyone is living in it? This is unconstitutional - invasion of privacy. If the police take hours to respond to a residential burglar alarm, how fast do you think they'll respond to a break in at a unalarmed house?

How can PG County get some smart, ethical leaders? From the county exec on down, we are represented by corrupt morons. I guess that makes the majority of us voters morons. I need to move to an area where I can send my kids to a public school system that teaches kids and doesn't have to put up with mindless thugs whose parents are worse then the kids and a Board of Education who care, are smart and ethical. We keep dumping money into PG Public Schools where we can't keep a decent superintendent, have our Board of Education disolved by the State because they are corrupt and useless. We needs a Board of Education, administrators, staff and teachers who speak, write and teach English and not some other language including hood or ghetto. If I can't understand my kid's teachers how can my kids? A county where the Police Department is just and respectful. A county that balances a budget. I understand that assessments are done every 3 years and that the county needs tax revenue but how can I sell my house for the assessed amount? If every home owner in PG was to appeal their property tax assessment, we would clog up the county tax division and court system.

To Campos and the rest of the county council, don't worry about what I am doing with my house. Focus on more important issues like how to oust the county exec., balance the budget, fix public education or eliminate it and give everyone a tax credit so that we can send our kids to private school, etc.

I need to move.

Posted by: neil64 | August 8, 2009 4:57 AM | Report abuse

good luck enforcing that!

Posted by: djrhood | August 8, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

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