The California State Senate has just taken steps to end neighborhood blight caused by the lack of maintenance on foreclosed property. Banks and mortgage companies will face fines of $1,000 per day if they allow foreclosed homes to become run-down and a source of neighborhood blight under a bill that passed the state Senate on Monday.
The state has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, especially in the Central Valley. In many cases, the vacant properties are overgrown with weeds and shrubs, and they have become magnets for squatters and vandals. Swimming pools often become stagnant, turning into breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Under the bill by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, local governments could impose the fines on lenders after giving them 14 days' notice to fix the problems.
The bill, supported by consumer groups and local governments, and was sent to the Assembly on a 28-10 vote. Because it is urgency legislation, it would take effect as soon as it is signed into law.
"Having dilapidated or blighted ... unkempt properties in neighborhoods seems to have a spiraling effect," said Bill Higgins, lobbyist for the League of California Cities. "When they look unkempt, they seem to attract more squatters, crime."
The hardest-hit counties are Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sacramento and Yuba, all in the Central Valley. The report showed one of every 737 Merced County residents and one of every 1,003 Sacramento County residents lost their home to foreclosure in March.
We have a house at the end of the block that has been abandoned for almost a year. Our neighborhood is beautifully maintained and the house just stands out. The people next door are trying to sell their upgraded, immaculate house and the sore thumb next door isn’t helping.
Even worse, in areas especially hard hit by foreclosures these abandoned homes are depressing the neighborhoods even more.
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