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FHFA sues Chicago over vacant building registration

A very worrisome lawsuit has been filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, against the City of Chicago which recently passed an ordinance that requires mortgage holders to register vacant buildings 30 days after they become vacant or 60 days after a mortgage goes into default, whichever is later, pay a registration fee, keep the premises free of weeds or trash and make sure they are structurally sound.

The lawsuit says that:

….the city’s ordinance encroaches on the FHFA’s role as the sole regulator and supervisor of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It says Chicago cannot mandate how the agencies handle vacant buildings for which they are the designated mortgagee.

The problem is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own about 258,000 mortgages in Chicago so a considerable number of vacant structures would be unregulated if the lawsuit succeeds.  Illinois law makes it almost impossible for a municipality to cut weeds, fix up property and add the costs to the property tax bill.  This has really hampered our ability to address problem properties which is why ordinances like the one in Chicago are so important.

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