Las Vegas Sun

November 25, 2015

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NLV eyes home upkeep rules to fight foreclosure blight


Sam Morris / FILE

Local governments are dealing in different ways with owners that won’t maintain homes, like this one with a neglected pool, after foreclosures.

North Las Vegas has proposed a new ordinance that is designed to help the city reduce its collection of mangy, deteriorating foreclosed homes.

Following in the footsteps of Las Vegas and other cities across the country, the law would require all homeowners in foreclosure to register with the city and post contact information on the property. They must then maintain the home’s landscaping and pools, as well as secure the home from access to unauthorized people. Those who fail to comply could face criminal prosecution.

Councilwoman Anita Wood of Ward 3 said deteriorating foreclosed homes have been a constant issue for the city. The city discussed the ordinance in early 2011, but it waited to see how it held up in Las Vegas. After seeing it succeed, Wood said the city felt it was time to propose its own version. It will be voted on at the next city council meeting on Oct. 17.

“Now it’s like ‘OK … (the ordinance) is working in Las Vegas,’” Wood said. “So it's just been that push to say, ‘We’ve waited long enough, let’s get it rolling.'”

North Las Vegas has been hit harder by the housing crash than most cities. A survey conducted by foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac found that 1 in every 267 homes in the city received a foreclosure filing in August. The rate is higher than both Henderson and Las Vegas.

Wood said neglected foreclosed homes could decrease property values for nearby homeowners. She hears complaints from residents all the time about deteriorating properties, but with no easy way to track a person responsible for the home, it takes longer to correct the issue. Wood said this ordinance could help fix that issue.

“It is time-consuming when (housing code enforcement officials) have to spend time trying to figure out where the property owner is, and go through the whole mystery,” Wood said. “When we have that information easily accessible, I think the process will happen so much easier.”

The ordinance also runs congruent to the city’s beautification goal in its five-year strategic plan.

“For (city council members), it's all about keeping the beauty of the city up and maintaining property values,” Wood said.

If passed, the ordinance would impact homes that are foreclosed after Oct. 17. Previously foreclosed homes do not fall would not be affected.

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