Clean Up Abandoned Properties

Right now, 524 houses in Stafford are owned by banks or are in foreclosure. And many of these abandoned properties are not properly maintained, so they’re a blight on our neighborhoods. We need to take a proactive approach to clean up these properties and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to do it. Other towns have aggressive programs in place to get the banks to either fix up the property or sell it to someone who will fix it. For example, in Brick, the town has a registration program that collects a $500 fee every 6 months from the banks for empty houses. This is generating $800,000 a year in revenue, but the real goal here is to hold the banks responsible and to get these properties fixed up and back on the tax rolls. In South Toms River, they have an escalating fee schedule that starts at $250 and goes up to as much as $5000 per year after 5 years. Again, the goal is to get these properties fixed up and back on the tax rolls.