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New Ordinance Drafted On Foreclosed Property Maintenance

Community activists want vacant buildings like this one, which are owned by banks after foreclosures, to be boarded up, cleaned up and secured before the first day of classes for the Chicago Public Schools. (Credit: CBS)

Community activists want vacant buildings like this one, which are owned by banks after foreclosures, to be boarded up, cleaned up and secured before the first day of classes for the Chicago Public Schools. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Emanuel Administration is proposing changes in its ordinance requiring banks to clean up vacant, foreclosed properties.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, this time, the banks are in agreement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city ordinance holding banks responsible for securing and boarding up their vacant, foreclosed properties got the lenders to pay attention.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Now he says they have talked, and some changes have been made. Now a new ordinance is before the City Council.

“Because of the agreement we’ve reached, not only have we reformed our ordinances, I’ve now called Senate President (John) Cullerton (D-Ill.), who is excited, who is on his way to Springfield, to inform him I want to move this legislation,” the mayor said.

Ald. Ray Suarez (31st), who chairs the City Council Housing Committee, says the principle is the same.

“If they’re foreclosing, they want control of their properties, but they also have to board up those buildings and make them safer while the process is going on,” he said.

The original ordinance was sponsored by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who says the new ordinance better delineates the responsibilities of the banks.

“We provided clarity to the banks, in terms of the maintenance requirements that the city expects them to be responsible for,” she said.

The original ordinance introduced a legal definition of a “mortgagee” – a bank or other entity that holds a mortgage on a property – as a property owner that is required to handle routine maintenance.

This meant the banks would be responsible for such actions as boarding up entrances, responding to complaints about a building, and keeping the lawn mowed and the snow shoveled.

Through the course of last year, the Department of Buildings had to tear down or board up more than 500 buildings, which accounted for $13.7 million in expenses. The Department of Streets and Sanitation also had to perform upkeep on 1,963 vacant buildings and tear down 345 empty garages, at a cost of $1.8 million.

Mayor Emanuel says the new ordinance bodes well for eventual statewide legislation.