A state lawmaker says he will focus on initiatives to speed up the rehabilitation of abandoned homes during the upcoming legislative session. State Representative Justin Moed (D-97) says his proposals specifically center on more quickly transferring properties to those interested in fixing them up as part of an effort to improve neighborhoods. January 3, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS – In the second year of his efforts to improve neighborhoods across Indiana, State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis) said he will focus on legislative cures to speed up the process of putting abandoned homes into the hands of people interested in rehabilitating the properties as quickly as possible.
“In 2013, I learned that making our neighborhoods better is an idea that has great interest throughout the state, in both rural and urban areas,” Moed said. “I am grateful that solution-focused lawmakers like State Sen. James Merritt (R-Indianapolis) were willing to work alongside me to see what could be done to protect our neighborhoods as the backbone of our communities.”
Reforms authored by Moed that were enacted in 2013 included the re-establishment of an Urban Homesteading program to help find owners for abandoned housing and passage of a law that deters the theft of catalytic converters and copper HVAC coils by limiting who can sell these metals to scrapyards.
“In 2014, I will be looking at ways to get these blighted properties into the hands of buyers in a more timely fashion, preventing slumlords from buying abandoned houses, and reducing the problems caused by zombie homes: those properties that have been abandoned by their owners, but still not reclaimed by banks,” Moed said.
The 2014 “Neighborhoods First” program will include:
– Ending the redemption waiting period for abandoned homes that go through tax sales.
“Right now, it is a disincentive for buyers to purchase an abandoned home in a tax sale, because they must wait a year before they can take ownership, and that time frame often leaves the property open to get trashed and scrapped of metal,” Moed said. “I will propose that people can get immediate ownership at the time of the tax sale purchase, which means they can begin rehabilitating the home right away.
“I also want to explore giving counties the ability to include ‘paddle fees’ at tax sales that can be used to help secure homesteading loans to rehabilitate properties and eliminate blight,” he added.
– Keeping closer tabs on slumlords who buy properties with no intention of rehabilitation.
“I want to explore establishing a blight program through the Indiana Attorney General’s office that would keep track of the names of these bad actors, who would be prevented from taking part in tax and surplus sales,” Moed said.
“I also will pursue removing the statewide ban on landlord registries that was passed in the 2013 session,” he noted. “It is imperative that we have the names and contact information of landlords so we can keep closer watch on the people who are causing the most problems.”
– Curbing the speculator game.
“We have seen the rise of an investment market set up around the idea of people buying homes at tax sales with no intention of owning or rehabilitating them,” Moed said. “The investors are simply looking for quick money from the 10- to 15-percent interest returns they get from someone trying to keep their homes. My proposals would cut those interest payments in half to end this windfall investment made on the backs of struggling homeowners.”
– Tackling zombie homes.
“My proposal would give local units of government the opportunity to ask judges to expedite the process when a bank is stalling the foreclosure process of an abandoned home and get it back on the market for a non-profit group, city or individual to purchase and rehabilitate,” Moed said.
“I realize that these are ambitious goals for a short legislative session, but I also have come to realize that there is an increased awareness of the problems facing our neighborhoods, as well as a renewed willingness to find solutions as quickly as possible, rather than years down the road,” the lawmaker continued. “I believe we can get these things done, and I will work with anyone I can to see these reforms become law.”