PTC to require registration of all vacant homes?

Peachtree City may soon be considering an ordinance to deal with the growing number of vacant homes left in the wake of the nationwide housing crisis.

Some of the vacant homes pose a danger.

Peachtree City may soon be considering an ordinance to deal with the growing number of vacant homes left in the wake of the nationwide housing crisis.

Some of the vacant homes pose a danger: uncovered pools full of water; others have been broken into because they have not been well-secured, city staff told the City Council last week.

Under the staff proposal, owners of homes that are vacant for more than 90 days would be required to register the property with the city.

That would allow the city to “keep an eye on those and try to keep the appearance up to protect the neighborhood,” said interim Community Development Director David Rast. It will also help the city keep people from conducting illegal activity in those homes, he added.

The ordinance would require owners of vacant properties to register them with the city once they remain vacant for 90 days. They also must sign a form that gives the city permission to inspect the property periodically to make sure it is maintained and not open to the general public.

The new ordinance will also address measures that can be taken by the city when a property falls into a blighted condition, Rast said.

City Manager Bernie McMullen said the ordinance would give the city more leverage to deal with bank-owned property that is not properly maintained. In some cases the city has had to pay for the grass to be cut at several vacant homes because the owner failed to do so.

The city’s only recourse in that situation is to place a lien on the property for the cost of the lawn-mowing, but the city is unlikely to recoup that money because such homes are in the foreclosure process, McMullen said.

Staff also proposed that the ordinance include language to allow the city to address homes that fall into a blighted condition.

Many times it can be difficult for the city to identify the true owner of a vacant property, particularly if the home is in the foreclosure process, Rast said.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch, a real estate agent, said she was concerned about the potential for a homeowner’s insurance policy to be cancelled should the insurance company learn the owner no longer lives on the premises. That might lead people to not report vacant properties, she said.

Mayor Don Haddix said the ordinance should consider that condominium associations are typically responsible for the upkeep of not just the exterior but also the interior of units.

“I would rather them intervene than us,” Haddix said.

The ordinance has not yet been written but council gave a go-ahead to proceed with the matter.

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