Today, I learned of a proposed change to the Gwinnett County Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO) which would implement a fee based registration process for all foreclosed and vacant properties within the county. Should the proposed change become approved, all current PMO standards would remain the same. The change would be the addition of the “fee based” registration process for each of these structures. My belief is, the intent of this process is to assist in the enforcement of the current PMO standards. I would love to see our community preserved and property owners held accountable for damages we all suffer as a result of abandoned properties. However, I’m not sure a tax – oops, I mean fee based registration process is the answer. Property ownership can currently be identified through deeds and tax records, both on file with the county. When a property is foreclosed, it is then deeded into the name of the new owner which could be an individual, corporation or a financial institution.
Believe me; I understand how very difficult it can be to determine current ownership/contact information for properties. Lengthy delays in deed recordation can often make the task quite challenging. These delays are not the sole fault of the county, either. The county can only process what it’s given. The big “foreclosure mills” (closing attorney groups who handle massive cases of foreclosures) must submit the paperwork for proper and timely deed recordation. By the way… the foreclosures are handled right there on the courthouse steps. Why then wouldn’t the contact information be available making enforcement of the current PMO standards effective?
With that said, maybe a more efficient process for recording deeds/tax records would be a better solution, rather than a fee based registration. Seriously, the people and organizations most difficult to find are still going to be difficult to find. They’ll just pay the fees later, if at all.
Consider a neighbor or friend who has had to move before the sale of his/her primary residence was completed. With this new system, he or she would be required to go through the county registration process and pay the fee in addition to paying for county trash service they won’t even be using. Isn’t that just what one needs when dealing with an already dreadful situation?
If approved, this is setting precedence for future expansion of these registrations and fees, potentially to include all rental properties. Additionally, there is language to require owners or multi-family units to update and identify an “agent” each year.
You may be for such a plan, and that’s your choice. I am not. Adding another level of red tape to property ownership will not be effective and is not what we need right now.
The Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing in regard to this ordinance change on Tuesday, January 25th, at 7pm at the Gwinnett Justice & Administration Center on Langley Drive. Maybe, I’ll see you there?
You can share your thoughts, be they pro or con to this proposal with your County Commissioner.
Shirley.Lasseter@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-7001 / Dist 1
Lynette.Howard@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-7002 / Dist 2
Mike.Beaudreau@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-9003 / Dist 3
John.Heard@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-9004 / Dist 4