When the mortgage bubble burst and the economy turned sour in 2008 - the result was an uptick in the number of vacant or otherwise abandoned homes and properties across the nation - one city is imposing a hefty fee on property owners who fail to maintain those abandoned sites - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
Whether you are a bank or a private citizen: if you hold title to a piece of property in the city of Poughkeepsue and you've abandoned it or are otherwise ignoring it - you could be facing a hefty fine.
A lot of homeowners abandoned their properties in the last three or four years - ownership falling into the hands of banks, trustees and out-of-state lenders who leave the buildings fallow. Tkayzik says the city's common council recently voted to impose a $1500 fee for performing maintenance.
Tkayzik points out that $1500 is NOT an annual penalty or tax but a PER VISIT fee whenever the city has to visit a particular site.
The mayor says complaints often come in from neighbors concerned about blight affecting their property values and quality of life. Poughkeepsie keeps a vacant property registry which attempts to track owners of empty homes and buildings - there were 16 of them in Poughkeepsie when Mayor John Tkazyik took office in 2008 - now there are more than 300...
Down the river in the Orange County city of Newburgh, Fire Chief Micheal Vatter is the director of codes compliance. He says Newburgh also has about 300 vacant or abandoned properties and keeps a vacant building registry which has a 900 dollar annual fee attached to it. The city urges voluntary compliance and works with owners to avoid problems: Vatter says most are co-operative - he says foreclosed properties are the most difficult to deal with.
Both Vatter and Tkayzik say enforcement levels are being ramped up in their respective cities. And until the economy heals, it is unlikely that the buildings will again become homes to individuals and families.