Maryland charging a foreclosure maintenance fee
In some areas of the country, the number of foreclosures continues to rise. One Maryland county is hoping to address the problem with a fee on foreclosed homes. The bill would also make it a criminal offense to let a home fall into disrepair.
Maryland’s high foreclosure rate
Maryland has been facing high foreclosure rates since the housing collapse in 2008. Prince George County in Maryland has had one foreclosure for every 457 households thus far in 2011. Many of the homes in Prince George County are not being maintained, which is reducing property values at the same time inventory is going up. Not only does this lead to urban blight, Prince George County tax revenues are falling.
Charging a foreclosure fee
Prince George County has been appealing to the state lawmakers for the right to do something about homes that are not maintained. The county wants to charge owners of foreclosed homes $75 per year. This money would go into a county fund that would pay for contractors to clean up abandoned homes. Essentially, it would be one more fee on the short term loans of foreclosures. The county would also be given the right to send inspectors to check on foreclosed homes.
Problems with foreclosure fees
Getting a short-term loan in the form of foreclosure fees is intended to help the city care for foreclosed homes and improve property values. The fee, however, could be the equivalent of trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. The county says it will not be trying to collect the $75 fee from homeowners in debt. However, that means that the county may be trying to collect a per-house fee from banks that own the properties and are not maintaining them. In order to help ensure this happens, the county may also be creating a criminal or civil misdemeanor offense for not “keeping a property up to neighborhood standards.”