Bill would allow homes to sit vacant for up to one year
MILWAUKEE – On Monday, March 7, Mayor Tom Barrett voiced opposition on Assembly Bill 720 which would worsen the abandoned property problem in Milwaukee and other communities.
Properties that the homeowner abandons and leaves vacant for foreclosure are called “zombie properties.”
Currently, when a property is declared an abandoned foreclosed property, the lender must offer it for sale as soon as reasonable after a five-week time period.
The proposed legislation would give lenders up to a year.
Vacant homes are frequently the target of vandals and quickly become nuisance properties.In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a lender who files a foreclosure action must follow through and sell the property if a court declares that the property is abandoned.
AB 720 would undo some of the powers to battle zombie homes that the City of Milwaukee gained from that ruling.
“How does having these abandoned properties sit vacant for a year with the lender having the ability to walk away help the problem?
It makes the problem worse,” Mayor Barrett said.
“I want Milwaukee families in these homes, and it is in everybody’s best interest to have an abandoned home be vacant for the shortest time period possible because it is more likely for vandals to come in and wreak havoc.”
There are currently 350 “zombie properties” in the City of Milwaukee.
For commercial properties, the bill would allow a lender to do nothing and leave the property abandoned.
The City of Milwaukee has a direct interest in reducing and eliminating blight in local neighborhoods.
AB 720 would increase the length of time abandoned properties remain boarded, uninhabited and not returned to productive use.