The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a bill that would create escalating penalties for owners of vacant and blighted properties that fail to correct code violations in a timely manner.
As reported in The Washington Post:
There are at least 350 vacant houses in Montgomery, many owned by out-of-state residents or developers “who simply have no short-term incentive to care for the property or put it back on the market,” Tom Hucker (D-Eastern County), the bill’s sponsor, said in a memo to his fellow council members.
Under county law, owners of vacant homes face fines of up to $500 for failing to clear up code violations within 90 days. But fines can be contested in court, where proceedings are often delayed and penalties lowered.
Hucker’s bill imposes an escalating schedule of fees — similar to those charged to owners for false fire alarms — that can’t be contested. The measure calls for the county housing department to begin a registry of poorly maintained vacant properties and inspect them for code violations. Owners whose homes remain in poor condition after 90 days would be charged for each subsequent county inspection. (Fees for false alarms start at $25 and can reach $4,000 for 20 alarm calls.)
Read The Washington Post to learn more.
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