Council member furious over state forcing taxpayers to pay for abandoned homes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 27, 2015) - You are likely paying for the upkeep of the abandoned home in your neighborhood. Banks, on the other hand, that owned foreclosed properties, they don’t have to pay a dime, and state lawmakers are making sure it stays that way.

Indianapolis City County Council members are not happy about it. City taxpayers are having to foot the bill for foreclosed homes owned by banks, all because state lawmakers promised a solution, that never happened.

Republican Indianapolis City County Councilman Jeff Miller lives in a really nice neighborhood where, “You know I’ve lived here 18 years and these homes have been abandoned the entire time,” said Miller.

Abandoned and blighted homes consume city blocks near Miller’s home.

“This is definitely an issue in Indianapolis. I know statewide, there’s over 5,000 homes that are stuck in this zombie like state if you will. We’re not even sure how many there are in Indianapolis, we probably have the largest percentage of that,” said Miller.

According to RealtyTrac.com, Indiana ranks 7th in nation in the number of “zombie homes.”

“The home becomes what we call a zombie home where there’s no one taking care of it, but the bank’s position is well, we don’t own it yet, because we didn’t finish the mortgage,” said Miller.

“Zombie homes” are foreclosed homes, in the bank’s name, that they have no responsibility for. Instead, city and state taxpayers pay to mow the lawn, board windows, and keep them clean. A bill in the statehouse aimed to hold banks accountable, until lawmakers decided otherwise.

“At the end of the day when the grass gets cut and the windows get boarded up, now taxpayers and neighbors are going to pay for it instead of the banks,” said State Representative Justin Moed (D –Indianapolis).

Moed was an initial sponsor of the bill. He removed himself when it was amended to let banks off the hook.

“Why should neighbors, and the neighborhood be responsible and be able to be fined for not keeping the grass cut, making sure their windows, gutters, and siding, and all those things are being kept up, but a property that’s in foreclosure, the bank doesn’t have to, and I think a lot of neighbors are going to want to know the answer to that question: why are they getting special treatment?” he said.

The bill is now awaiting a signature from the Governor. With three days left in the session, the only solution according to Moed, is introducing another bill as a fix; otherwise, Indiana taxpayers will be paying the bill for foreclosed homes, till next year.