City officials first proposed the foreclosure and vacant properties registry more than a year ago to combat properties falling into disrepair and creating a community eyesore. But it was never officially approved because council members couldn’t agree upon a fine schedule.
Unlike the previous proposal that was modeled after a DeKalb County ordinance that ran into legal obstacles, the new ordinance is based on the Georgia Municipal Association model.
“The establishment of a foreclosed or vacant property registry is a means to protect neighborhoods from become blighted through lack of maintenance and security,” Community Development Director Janet Hyde said. “This can happen as a result of properties that have been foreclosed or where ownership has been transferred after foreclosure and properties are left vacant for an extended period of time and become rundown and the grass gets high.”
The council settled on a fee of $100 per registered property, which is the maximum allowable fee under state law, and a penalty of $1,000 per property maximum for failure to register.
“Maybe with a stiff penalty, it will make them do what they’re supposed to do,” Councilwoman Shirley Marchman said.
The main concern of most city officials is getting those banks based in other states that own foreclosed properties in Villa Rica to comply
“Where this comes into play most often is when some bank in California or New York that’s foreclosed upon the property just may not know to do it, so once you bring it to their attention if they comply quickly maybe they don’t need to be fined so strictly,” City Attorney David Mecklin. “But if they refuse to comply within three months, perhaps you pop them harder.”
Councilman Patrick Henrickson voted against the registry, but only because he believed the fine for non-compliance should be lowered to $500 per property.
According to RealtyTrac, 69 properties in Villa Rica received some form of foreclosure — default notice, bank repossession or foreclosure auction notice — in August.
That number is up slightly from 65 in July, but down significantly from the 128 foreclosure properties in January.
RealtyTrac reported that one in 198 housing units in Villa Rica received a foreclosure filing in August.