An encouraging trend has emerged in Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, and New Jersey, which have adopted statewide vacant property registries or statewide regulations that provide guidance to municipalities to uniformly combat blight in their cities.
Five years ago, Safeguard Properties was tracking about 60 municipal VPRs across the country. Today that number has grown to about 1,025, each with its unique rules, requirements, and fees. Not only are these individual ordinances cumbersome for overburdened municipal code enforcement departments to track and enforce, mortgage servicers also find it difficult to effectively manage and comply with so many different requirements.
The statewide approach provides a more standardized process to address code violations by facilitating broader scale and more efficient contact between code enforcement officials and mortgage servicers. Statewide ordinances help to reduce blight and protect neighborhoods through a more streamlined, uniform process than city-enacted VPRs. The benefits for municipalities, states, and servicers include:
- Personalized requirements that meet geographic and community needs. Each state chooses VPR requirements that are appropriate for the communities in their states. They can tailor requirements based on what works best in their municipalities.
- Better communication with local code enforcement. Creating one registry per state helps code enforcement officials keep track of the vacant homes in their areas and identify servicers when issues arise. On the flip side, it is easier for servicers to comply with one set of requirements in each state, which will lead to greater compliance.
- Established system for implementing property registries. Municipalities that do not currently have VPRs will have the necessary mechanisms in place to enforce state law and protect properties in their communities rather reinventing the wheel to create their own ordinances.
- Reduced blight and safer neighborhoods. Eliminating blight in communities across the country was the original intent of VPRs. By implementing statewide laws, states create uniformity and make it easier for servicers to comply, resulting in safer and better maintained neighborhoods.