Manage a problem property

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A critical step to addressing problem properties is to communicate with private property owners. Here you will find resources on communicating with property owners and encouraging owner responsibility.

See also the preventing blight section for proactive ideas on legal options (codes, ordinances, property registration, permit denials, criminal charges) to fight blight.

Communicate with private property owners

deed searchHow to research a property owner
[click to download]
Use this tool to learn all about a deed search and how to go about one. It also contains a checklist and regional resources to contact to obtain property information.

friendly letterFriendly Letter Template [click to download]
Use this letter to initiate a conversation with the owner of an abandoned/dilapidated property.

conversation prop ownerConversation with property owner script
 [click to download]
Now that you’ve mailed a letter to a property owner about a site, s/he calls you back. This script will help guide you in a productive conversation.

Encourage owner responsibility

Property Owner Expectations and Responsibilities [coming soon]

blight prevention
Blight prevention strategies [click to download]
The tool is geared mainly for municipalities seeking legal action; visit the blight prevention page for more ideas for communities to take action.

What if the property owner does not comply?

Liens for Demolition and Repair Under the Building Code
Liens are legal claims to properties with the purpose of satisfying the owner’s debts. Liens can be filed when municipalities and counties spend money to repair or demolish a building that violates the building code. For more information, refer to the WV LEAP Toolkit’s page on Liens for Demolition and Repair here.

Eminent Domain Condemnation
Eminent Domain Condemnation is the power of government entities to seize neglected private property with just compensation to property owners as a last resort to address neglected properties. Find out more info on the Eminent Domain page of the WV LEAP Toolkit here.

Establish a land bank

A land bank is a public authority created to efficiently hold, manage and develop tax-foreclosed property. West Virginia recently passed the SB579 Land Banks bill, however the creation of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is a more effective route.

Huntington, West Virginia has set up a land bank through their Urban Renewal Authority. Visit their website to learn more. We also profiled their experience through a success story here.

For more more information about land banks, check out the WVU Land Use Clinic’s LEAP Toolkit and also this FAQ from the Center for Community Progress.