California cities move to make lenders tidy up foreclosed homes

The scene is familiar in neighborhoods throughout the Valley: a dead lawn, debris in front and a murky swimming pool in back, sure signs of a foreclosed home.

To prevent eyesores, Valley cities are taking steps to hold lenders responsible for maintaining foreclosed properties.

Homes that are not kept up "affect both the quality of life and the economic state of a neighborhood," said Brian Calhoun, a Fresno City Council member. A state Senate bill passed in July allows cities to fine owners of neglected foreclosure properties up to $1,000 a day.

Some Valley cities have adopted ordinances requiring lenders to pay fees to register foreclosed properties and authorizing fines or liens if yards and pools aren't maintained.

Registration allows cities to keep track of who is responsible for a property's upkeep, Valley city officials said.

"In the foreclosure process, it's very difficult to know who owns the property," said Luis Patlan, Kerman's director of planning and development services.

Fresno city officials are working on an ordinance that would strengthen city policies to oversee and authorize penalties on abandoned and foreclosed properties. The proposal does not call for a fee to register properties, however.

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