Along with vacant property registration ordinances, Land Banks are one of the more widely used tools in the fight against blight. Now, class action lawsuit have been filed by former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, alleging his clients “should have been compensated when their properties were transferred to the Land Bank or sold.”

As Gus Frangos, president and general counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank states however, “In these cases, a person has not paid their taxes for many, many years. They don’t respond to collection notices. Then they get sued, don’t respond to that. They get notice of a hearing, they don’t attend the hearing. And then at the end of that, you’ve got another 28 days after a decree of foreclosure to still come in and enter into a payment plan, to try to make some kind of arrangement so that your property’s not taken.”

In one example a plaintiff is alleging they are owed a $60,000 surplus. Even if true, what would the number be when you deduct all the municipal costs over the years to abate nuisances, issue notices, attorney and court costs etc.? What about the loss of tax revenue as a result of the negative impact to the neighboring homes and their value, all as result of this homeowner not maintaining their property? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was well over $60,000!

Similar to the issue in Washington State and “pre-foreclosure” maintenance by banks and mortgage servicers, homeowners (mortgagors) have rights, but so do the neighbors, not to live next to an eyesore or a magnet for criminal activity due to lack of upkeep.

Here too, homeowners have rights, but so do the other neighboring homeowners and residents! If one chooses to ignore them, then as Gus Frangos says “”It’s not the county’s job to babysit an owner who now claims, after all these years, that he has equity in the property,”

For additional information, please click on the following links;

News5 Cleveland: Cuyahoga County faces federal lawsuit, asked to pay money to owners of foreclosed properties

Dayton Daily News: Resident sues county over Land Bank seizure