The city of Columbus, Ohio, has filed a complaint against a Nebraska-based corporation that owns 11 properties in the area. Alleging the corporation is a shield to protect the real estate investors who own the properties from liability, the Columbus city attorney filed a case against three corporations and two local real estate agents. The case accuses the companies and agents of participating in neglect that has caused the properties to become a blight on the local area.
“Their nuisance properties increase the city’s police, fire, health, emergency, and abatement costs while at the same time depreciating the property values of the surrounding area,” assistant city attorney Katarina Karac said in a news release.
The investors were able to acquire the 11 properties as part of a bundle of foreclosed properties. Those foreclosures occurred as a result of unpaid property taxes. These types of properties can come into investors’ hands with a host of problems including:
- Outstanding code violations
- Delinquent taxes
- Delinquent utility payments
- Special assessment fees
- Neglected maintenance and repair work
- Weather damage
The most notable issue of neglect, the city contends, is one property where a wall collapsed as a result of water damage. A lawyer for the defendants has agreed the companies will secure the damaged property and present a plan to fix it. This is a particularly serious issue because it is part of a row of houses and people live in the adjacent properties. City of Columbus attorneys want to prevent the investors from acquiring more tax lien certificates or buying other properties until all 11 properties are brought into compliance. “They seem to take advantage of a good government program,” said city attorney Zach Klein.
In Fall 2017, Columbus succeeded in compelling a California investor to sell a portfolio of about 40 properties after filing code enforcement violations against more than half of them.