ELO plan would require bond on foreclosures

EAST LIVERPOOL – Despite considerable debate and concern, the Ordinance Committee has forwarded for city council’s consideration legislation that would require the owner of foreclosed property to post a $10,000 bond with the Planning Department.

The idea behind the bond is to hold the owner – generally a lending institution – accountable for maintaining the vacant property. An annual renewal fee of $100 for each residential structure and $250 for each commercial structure would be required as long as the structure remains vacant.

Just last year, council enacted legislation requiring notification of the Planning Department of any foreclosed property, along with a filing fee of $75 or $100 if notification isn’t made to the Planning Department for more than 10 days after the foreclosure is filed.

Law Director Charles Payne cautioned the committee Tuesday that implementing such a bond requirement could impact a bank’s decision to lend money for city property, since it will have the additional burden of the bond.

Model legislation from Youngstown was used to prepare the ordinance being forwarded to council, but Payne pointed out the law was just enacted in that city in January and “it might be too early to see how it impacts lending.”

He suggested someone speak with bank officials to get their input on whether or not it will impact their decision to loan people money on property.

Committeeman Chuck Wade questioned how the ordinance will be enforced since often the lending institution handling the foreclosure is from out of this area.

Committee member Ryan Stovall pointed out there are 40 homes “just sitting there,” foreclosed on in the city.

Ordinance Committee Chairman Ray Perorazio said, “A bank wouldn’t care about that 10,000 bucks,” and said the ordinance is aimed at “making banks responsible for what they’re doing. If you want to make a loan in this town, you need to be responsible.”

It was agreed to forward the legislation for council’s consideration, with the understanding that it might just undergo one reading until committee members can talk with Youngstown and possibly Canton officials to see how the same bond requirement is working in those cities and to local bank officials.

Although not yet prepared, legislation could be forthcoming in the future enacting a daily fine for landlords who fail to have their rental properties up to city standards before allowing a tenant to move in.

Perorazio suggested a $50 per day fine should be enacted if a home’s roof, gutters, windows and paint are not up to standard, saying landlords are licensed and if they fail to live up to the provisions required by city ordinance.

Stovall complained that property owners ordered into court for the condition of their properties often have the case dismissed if they come into compliance, saying, “You still weren’t in compliance on Tuesday (when the complaint was filed).”

Payne said the approach is to get people into compliance, prompting Stovall to say, “We want compliance, but we want punishment, too. There is so much work for every department to (get a case ready for court), and they don’t recoup anything.”

Payne said he wasn’t ready to concede that every case is dismissed as Stovall alleged and said he would need to look at the individual cases.

The committee indicated discussion will continue on this issue before legislation is prepared.

Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers at City Hall.