Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) has introduced legislation that would combat neighborhood blight caused when foreclosed homes are note maintained, driving down nearby property values and increasing criminal activity. AB 2557 would allow neighbors of lender-owned vacant properties to obtain a court order to force the lender to fix up blighted property. The measure also allows large cities to more easily require lenders to maintain their blighted properties. “It is tough enough for families to see the value of their homes plunge because of the ongoing real estate slump. But it is unfair when the reason for the diminishing value is because a nearby lender-owned property isn’t maintained,” said Feuer. “This bill gives neighbors the power to take action when lenders refuse to maintain a foreclosed property hurting the community.” AB 2557 allows the owner of a residential property adjacent to a vacant foreclosed residential property to bring legal action against the lender neglecting the property, forcing the lender to maintain it. The measure creates incentives for lenders to ensure that their properties are properly maintained, putting a stop to slides in neighboring real estate value, deterring crime, and taking pressure off local governments. In addition, the bill helps large cities more efficiently use their existing authority to force the maintenance of blighted properties through court-ordered receiverships. “Blighted properties continue to depress property values, are known to attract illegal activity, and place an increased stress on City services,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich. “The simple fix addressed in this legislation will help us combat the serious consequences of neighborhood blight by allowing large cities, like Los Angeles, to better utilize their existing authority in order to get these properties cleaned-up in the most efficient manner.” Blight related to foreclosed homes has been one of the most serious problems resulting from the real estate crisis. Residents in neighborhoods with high numbers of vacant foreclosed homes often find that their own property value declines. Since prospective homebuyers tend to shop by neighborhood, all properties in areas with blighted foreclosures may be priced lower due to the housing supply increase and lower neighborhood desirability. Additionally, local governments must spend scarce resources on attending to blighted properties, such as increasing police patrols or contending with public health threats because of rodent infestation or mosquito-ridden swimming pools. Further, studies have shown that neighborhoods with blighted properties have higher levels of crime.

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