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Current Events in Residential Housing Market Spark Need for New Regulations

Alderman Bohl sponsored and helped pass an ordinance that requires the owners of abandoned residential properties pending foreclosure or in foreclosure proceedings to perform regular maintenance and upkeep such as snow removal and lawn care. The Common Council passed the ordinance in December.

Events in national and local residential housing markets have recently resulted in significant increases in mortgage loan defaults and in foreclosures on residential properties. Such properties create a great deal of concern for the health, safety and welfare of surrounding neighborhoods by contributing to a decline in property values of nearby residences, increasing the risk of fire, offering increased opportunities for crime, and—in some cases—creating an unattractive public nuisance.

“These properties can become blighted and can create risk for the community and families in the area, and the city can prevent these risks by regulating the management of abandoned properties,” he said. The ordinance sets specific requirements for inspection and maintenance of abandoned residences and includes penalties against the responsible parties for failure to take corrective action.

Further, because it is often difficult to trace the official ownership of foreclosed properties as they float through the banking system, this ordinance helps establish a process that requires parties with a mortgage lien interest in the residential property to inspect the property once a foreclosure action has been initiated. If it is determined that the property is abandoned, the ordinance requires registration of the property with the commissioner of Neighborhood Services.

The City of Milwaukee can then regulate the regular maintenance of the property and impose a fine structure on the mortgage or banking companies that are neglecting their responsibilities to the property, the neighborhood and the public.

“The City of Milwaukee is working very hard to weather the foreclosure crisis and is providing a variety of resources to residents. One service we can also provide is to help make banks responsible for the properties they hold and help keep property values in our neighborhoods intact,” Alderman Bohl said.

Other resources are available to residents facing foreclosure, including a number of approved agencies to help with credit counseling and mortgage information help. Go to for more information.