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Vacant Homes: 8 Ways to Make Sure They’re Maintained

With the foreclosure crisis, you may have noticed a vacant home or two on your block. Rather than see the home free-fall into disrepair, push local officials to take action before the untended house lowers the value of your own home.

Here’s a list of common vacant-home laws, rules, and programs. Call your local elected official’s office to find out what your community has in place and how you can get those laws enforced:

  • Special assessments charged to owners of vacant homes to cover the cost of added police and fire protection.
  • Mandatory fire, safety, or code inspections of vacant homes.
  • Laws forcing a foreclosing lender to maintain vacant homes during the foreclosure process–especially important in states where foreclosure takes a year or more.
  • Rules that let your local government make repairs to vacant homes and charge the owner for the work.
  • Vacant-home registries listing contact information for owners of vacant properties.
  • Housing courts that hear cases filed against owners of vacant homes.
  • Programs that transfer vacant homes to community development corporations, housing nonprofits, or government housing agencies.
  • Property codes that make owners of vacant homes secure their properties and add exterior lights.

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These articles are not intended to give legal or tax advice, and you should consult your attorney or financial advisor for additional information.

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