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?

Receivership / Conservatorship
The municipality appoints a third party to enter onto someone else’s property and complete the improvements needed to make it safe. [more information coming soon]

Condemning Properties Using West Virginia Unsafe Building Commissions [more information coming soon]

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.