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Vacant Building Registries Become Popular

February 15th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m back from my trip to Minnesota which was a wonderful opportunity to speak with inspectors who are really concerned about the foreclosure issues facing all of us.  Up there, they’ve even coined a term for vacant houses where the pipes burst after a thaw, “ice houses”.  I’ve seen my own share of them in the Chicago suburbs. Typically what’s happening is that the house goes into foreclosure, the owners move out without getting the water shut off, the pipes freeze and then burst during a thaw.  Mold is the next problem.  Sometimes the mold growth becomes so bad, demolition is the only option.  One way we’ve found out about these buildings is by noticing a tremendous use in water over a very short period of time.  We then try to contact someone at the lender who is responsive (with mixed results) or else obtain an administrative search warrant to get in.  Awhile back I spoke at an ICC symposium on property maintenance and heard a speaker from Cincinnati describe its vacant building registry.  This ordinance applies to buildings that have been ordered vacated by the City because they are unsafe or unsanitary.  You can find out more information at http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/cdap/pages/-34608-/ We have a different problem by us.  In Hinsdale, Illinois, for example, we were seeing more buildings remain vacant after being purchased for “teardowns”.  The market for new construction is pretty slow so the old houses sit.  We experienced people breaking in and stealing anything they could from them.  We’ve caught teens partying inside them also.  I proposed passing a vacant building registry ordinance so we could get contact information, charge a sufficient fee to monitor the program, and alert the police and the fire department that the buildings were unoccupied.  Hinsdale’s has recently gone into effect and I’m prosecuting my first violation for failure to register.  It’s not available online yet but I’ll post it when it does.  Already the police have told me they like having the information pop up on their in-car computers when they arrive on a call at the location.  I’m interested in finding other towns who are happy with their registries so let me know of you work in one of them.

  1. Kelly Anabch
    March 10th, 2009 at 10:02 | #1

    As the Code Enforcement Officer for the Village of Hinsdale I have had alot of success with this vacant property registration. One tip is to make sure if you have an ordinance that you ask Safeguard Properties to post it on their website.
    If you check the website, http://www.safeguardproperties.com, there is a link on the right side of the page where the ordinances can be located. You will see the Village of Hinsdale on the list of communities who have an ordinance or proposed ordinance.

    Safeguard has already registered one property.

    We have not had the ordinance very long and are already up to 17 properties registered.

    Stay tuned to see who we were able to get into court for not registering.

    You can contact the following individual for assistance at Safeguard Properties to help get your ordinance posted:

    Christian M. Reklinski
    Code Violations Team Lead
    Safeguard Properties
    P: 800-852-8306 x 1161
    F: 216-535-4336

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