Lawmaker wants to introduce a law to prevent zombie properties

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by Sarah Barwacz

MILWAUKEE-- Homeowners tell us years after going through foreclosure lenders put properties back in their name. The only problem, the homes have sat vacant for years and have tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines.

Jim Matson says his life was ruined by a zombie property.

"There was a knock on the door it was Milwaukee Police and they said we have a warrant for your arrest for code violations and I was like what are you talking about."

A zombie property is when a lender forecloses on a home like Matson's, leaves it vacant for years hoping property values go up, but the home just falls into disrepair.

"The houses were wasted, they were stripped, they are a mess."

Like other zombie properties, Matson's lender returned the home to his name without notifying him, sticking the homeowner with tens of thousands in code violations and fines.

Matson isn't alone. The city says these types of properties are taking up tons of worker's time. The commissioner for the Department of Neighborhood Services says a quarter of its 305,000 inspections were for code violations and board ups on vacant or foreclosed properties. About 400 of those properties are zombie properties.

Art Dahlberg, Commissioner for the Department of Neighborhood services says, "The lending institution has the right to do the foreclosure action, but they have a responsibility to the community to not create toxic assets in these neighborhoods."

That's why state representative Evan Goyke says he plans to introduce legislation requiring lending institutions to take care of the property until it sells. He plans to introduce that to legislation when session returns.

 

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