Editorial: Foreclosed properties should get basic tidying up


Some neighborhoods in Oregon have been harder hit by foreclosures than others. A bill that cleared the state Legislature last week and is on its way to the governor could be a boon to those who remain behind.

House Bill 2662 gives local governments the power to step in, should vacant properties become so run down that they begin to have an impact on surrounding property values.

It also lays out rules for mortgage holders that make it easier to trace who is responsible for abandoned properties. The measure applies only to residential properties.

Among other things, the law will require that owners of foreclosed properties, often banks and other lenders, inspect them at least monthly and do what must be done to prevent or identify and fix problems that will have an impact on the property values of neighbors or create a health hazard or public nuisance. Squatters and trespassers are among those problems.

In addition, property owners must post their telephone numbers or the numbers of local government agencies to whom people can report problems with vacant properties.

If owners fail to take care of problems, the city or county can step in and give the owner at least 30 days to correct the problem, unless the condition is so bad it’s a threat to public health or safety. If a property owner continues to ignore problems, the city can step in, have the work done and attach a lien to the property in order to recover its costs.

We suspect that will be a last-ditch choice, however. Cities and counties in Oregon generally are not so well off that they can spend money tidying up abandoned residential properties and then wait months or years to collect for the cost of that work. Yet with foreclosed property, they may have to do just that.

Don’t expect the abandoned house down the street with the run-down lawn to become a showplace overnight because of the new law. You can expect, however, that the worst of problems will be addressed, and relatively quickly.