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Vacant foreclosed property registry succeeding after first year

Posted on January 25, 2018
The countywide Kenton County Vacant Foreclosed Property Registration (VFPR) ordinance has been in place for over a year now. After starting slowly, registrations have grown steadily with PDS having registered 217 vacant foreclosed properties in 19 jurisdictions to date.

Kenton County Fiscal Court enacted the ordinance in November 2016. The program, which became effective December 9, 2016, increased the tools available to PDS staff for effective code enforcement activities. Most Kenton County cities advocated for the approval since early 2016.

Implementation of the new program saved tax dollars for PDS’ 16 One Stop Shop program jurisdictions by requiring lenders pursuing foreclosures to register a responsible party to maintain the vacant property. Knowing whom to contact reduces the time spent locating a responsible party when violations arise. The ordinance applies to all Kenton County communities regardless of whether they’re part of the PDS program.

The cost of administering this program is the responsibility of the banks and lending institutions that must maintain these foreclosed properties. The program is funded through a required $150 property registration fee. In addition, the registration reduces costs related to code enforcement activities by increasing staff efficiency in dealing with vacant and foreclosed properties.

“Requiring a local contact for these properties allows us to contact a person who has the authority to address issues such as tall grass or maintenance violations in a timely manner,” said Rob Himes, PDS’ codes administrator. “Under the old system, code enforcement officials’ only option was to mail a violation letter to the lending institution which is often out of state and that rarely yields results.”

Lenders, servicing companies, and local realtors/maintenance providers have been very receptive and supportive of the program, according to Himes. He and Safeguard Properties’ Heather Lazar and Michael Halpern presented on the subject during the American Association of Code Enforcement’s Annual Education Conference late last year. Safeguard Properties, headquartered in Cleveland, is the mortgage field services’ industry leader, preserving vacant and foreclosed properties across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Guam.

When speaking of Kenton County’s ordinance, Anne Salvatore of Safeguard Properties stated, “Quite frequently I have a great deal of difficulty determining the intent of an ordinance’s provisions and need to contact the jurisdiction for clarification.”

“Oftentimes it’s a challenge to find anyone able to assist me as the persons implementing the registration program are not the same as the persons that established the requirements. Your ordinance is clear, cohesive in its elements, and consistent with the information required on the form.”

Kenton County’s VFPR program has been well-received by staff and property stakeholders; the program has opened communication regarding these foreclosed properties, lessening the number of code enforcement complaints due to property preservation or maintenance issues.

PDS staff recently sent out the first round of annual renewal notices for the program.

“We’re looking forward to a successful 2018. The VFPR program promotes communication between staff and lenders/servicing companies, ensuring that foreclosed properties are maintained in a manner that protects the integrity of our neighborhoods,” concluded Himes.

Email Rob Himes or call him at 859.331.8980 for more information on the registration program.