Out of state home owners put a drain on Toledo - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Out of state home owners put a drain on Toledo

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

The 13abc I-Team is diving into the problem with out of state home owner that Toledo and Lucas County is facing.

Since the beginning of 2007, there have been roughly 46,000 property sales.  Of those property sales, 20,002 are out of state owners buying up Lucas county properties.  That translates into just over 43% of the property sales in Lucas County in the last 5 years with out of state buyers.  To some people that really translates into a mess next door.

"We're afraid of the snakes, bugs, whatever, critters," said Jamie Neilsen, who lives next to an abandoned home on Walbridge avenue in Toledo.  "It's a constant scare tactic. You can't have a nice neighborhood if you have a property no one takes care of." 

County records say the owner lives more than 300 miles away in Louisville, Kentucky.  Whether or not he knows what this place actually looks like right now, isn't clear but everyone here on Walbridge avenue sees this every day. 

"Some property owners just don't care about it.  It's probably a property they've had for a while and just don't care about the upkeep of it," said Ed Moore the director of Public Service for the city of Toledo. 

The city of Toledo gets high grass complaints a lot during the summer and the homeowners face fines.  Fines are also issued if the home isn't kept up.  They're called nuisance complaints. 

From June of 2011 through mid June of 2012 out of state home owners were fined 1,606 times to the tune of $397,875.  Only 151 were paid, which turned into $17,700. 

Compare that to the overall nuisance stats.  Since 2004, $5,067,900 in fines have been issued to homes in Toledo, that includes in and out of state home owners.  Only about 20% of that has been collected. 

As a comparison the June to June rate for the out of state owners is 4.4%

"Some of it is collectible but we do understand that we're going to be cutting grass that we understand is not going to be collectible," said Moore. 

Which brings us to the city's new plan.  Cut the grass first, then levy the fines and asses penalties if they're not paid.  it gets the grass cut but the city may end up spending money it will never see.

So what about a state to state partnership, to find out of state owners and make them actually pay up?  

"I don't think we've had that conversation as far as working with other entities or states to collect fines for grass cutting here in Toledo.  I don't think we've crossed that bridge at this point," said Moore.   

Toledo officials use county documents to find the last owner of record.  But if they only listed a PO box, and then don't bother checking their mail or change boxes, the notices go unnoticed.

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