I’ve been wondering for awhile when we’d begin seeing overcrowding issues crop up because of people losing their homes and moving in with relatives and friends. The Chicago Tribune has a good article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/ct-met-overcrowded-housing-0328-20100327,0,476974.story With 3 and 4 families in space meant for 1, we’re bound to see some tragic results. Given the economic situation in this country, are local jurisdictions looking the other way in some cases?
Inspectors need to be concerned with more than foreclosed properties because more and more people are calculating the numbers and walking away from their homes and mortgages because the house is worth less than the mortgage. These are people who can afford to pay their mortgages but figure it makes more sense to leave it behind. The Chicago Tribune describes this at http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/sc-biz-0318-walkaway–20100317,0,3899914.story
One of the best ideas I heard at the OBOA/MVBOC joint conference was during a discussion on what constitutes exigent circumstances. A building official said simply, “I know I have exigent circumstances when the Fire Marshall or engineer won’t go into the building to discuss the matter.” I thought that was a very good rule of thumb because it’s more than an intellectual exercise. It reminded me of a Justice Potter Stewart quote (he sat on the U.S. Supreme Court). In trying to define pornography he said that he couldn’t define it but he knew it when he saw it.
I’m just back from the SBOC conference in Lisle, IL and the OBOA and MVBOC joint conference in Dayton, Ohio. One of the things I especially enjoy, in addition to meeting new people, is getting new tips that I can pass on to other building officials and inspectors. For example, one of the attendees told me that he regularly attends sheriffs’ sales so that he can find out right away who bought the property. He may even be able to speak with someone on the spot. This way he doesn’t have to wait weeks until the deed is recorded at the Recorder of Deed’s office.
The Vacant Property Toolkit from the Business and Professional People for the Public Interest is finally ready and posted on its website at http://www.bpichicago.org/VacantPropertyResources.php I’ve written about this organization’s work in the past to address this very important issue and the Toolkit is a great starting point for any agency trying to deal with the problems presented by vacant and abandoned property.