The recent class I taught for the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn was very well attended and the feedback was terrific. Apparently the information covered was very valuable for the audience which was a mixture of police officers and code enforcement personnel. Too often law enforcement officers are intimidated when dealing with corporate entities as defendants, mainly because they don’t understand the procedures that have to be followed. In class, I tried to demystify the corporate process by showing how easy it is to search for corporate information on the Secretary of State website and how to look up ownership at the Recorder of Deeds website. Sometimes law enforcement officers don’t know how to find out who owns property. It can be critical when dealing with rental property. I also discussed how to use condemnation and demolition proceedings when trying to deal with problem properties as well as overcrowding issues and rental inspection ordinances. I’m going to be teaching the class again on February 26, 2010 and may even be taking the “show on the road”. I think law enforcement officials are eager to add new crime fighting tools to their techniques, especially with the number of vacant and abandoned buildings increasing in communities.
Commercial building foreclosures are going to be a big problem in 2010. Many communities already have these “zombie” buildings which were built during the good times but have stood empty or half-built. In some situations, inspectors I work with are going forward with demolition lawsuits or condemnation. Others just remain empty hoping for better days. This link contains an interesting video on the problem. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/20/zombie-buildings-are-they_n_365400.html
Too often purchasers of property do not do their due diligence to check for potential problems with the land or the building. This seems to happen quite frequently when property is located in a flood plain. I’ve had cases where people build bridges over creeks without a building or storm water management permit, use a bulldozer to move dirt around without a grading permit or buy property at a tax sale that later turns out to be a retention pond. Of course, they want a permit to build on their new property. In a case from Louisiana (Lafleur v. Blue, 6 So.3d 348(2009)), a purchaser learned the hard way that he should have investigated the property more thoroughly. After owning property for a number of years, he decided to sell it. However, a potential buyer discovered that it was in a floodway. Up until that point, the owner, failed to do his research. He then sued the local government agency for not indicating on the plat that part of the lot was in a floodway. The plat did show the lot was in a flood zone. The court said the owner should have researched the property “a little more” and decided against him.