With the goal of better serving the neighbors living near abandoned properties in disrepair, the Manchester Township Council in 2016 approved an ordinance amendment requiring property owners to register any properties that are unoccupied.
Abandoned and vacant properties — especially foreclosures owned by banks — are prone to falling into disrepair, which can negatively affect the quality of life of those living nearby. These properties can pose safety hazards to neighbors, as well as invite the potential for crime, vandalism and fire. While the Township already has a method of maintaining abandoned homes by placing a lien on the property to pay for any necessary work, this amendment to Chapter 313 of the Township Code, approved by Council on February 22, requires abandoned and vacant property owners to register and pay a fee.
This registration fee requirement shows property owners that Manchester Township Code Enforcement Officials are serious about monitoring their abandoned and vacant properties. With hundreds of vacant properties, it can be a daunting challenge for Code Enforcement to track down the entity responsible for property maintenance when ownership changes hands.
Registration for abandoned and vacant properties is a proactive measure that gives the Township better control over the foreclosures. This amendment allows the Township to encourage owners in possession of foreclosure properties to focus on making quick sales while providing for proper maintenance as they find a buyer.
The fee schedule starts at $750 in 2016 for the initial registration ($1,000 as of January 1, 2017, and forward). Subsequent annual registration renewals are $2,000 for the first, $3,000 for the second, and $5,000 for any thereafter. The fees will provide the funding necessary for the Code Enforcement Office to hire an additional employee to assist with the substantial task of tracking the maintenance of abandoned properties.
Chapter 313 of the Township Code sets forth the guidelines for what constitutes a “vacant and abandoned” property, which typically are homes where no one is living and utilities are not connected. Homes that are vacant due to renovation or recent placement on the market for sale would not require registration. Registration, which began in March 2016, will be required within 30 days after a building becomes vacant or 30 days after ownership is assumed.
For more information, please email Matt Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org