In every neighborhood of Boston there are abandoned, neglected homes that become eyesores, drag down property values and attract crime. Last week, I went to one of these disgraces in Hyde Park where piles of trashed ringed the perimeter, sharp nails poked through loose lumber dangling from the roof and signs posted on a window warned that the structure was unsafe.
What’s really outrageous is that this shameful sight is owned by a huge international bank that foreclosed on the house several years ago. A bank whose CEO shuttles around the world on a corporate jet, but won’t cut the grass in front of a house they own in a proud neighborhood of this city – it’s outrageous.
In 2010, I passed an ordinance that started to hold big banks accountable for the blighted properties they own in Boston. That ordinance established a registry of foreclosed properties and allowed the city to impose fines on landlords who failed to keep them up. Now, many big banks just pay the fine – it’s a cost of doing business for them – without fulfilling their responsibility as good neighbors.
Now, I’ve proposed going even ever further to hold big banks accountable and as mayor, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
- If the big bank refuses to pay the initial fine, or if the fine does not cover the necessary improvements to the property, the Inspectional Services Department will send notices to the big bank’s corporate office specifically laying out the improvements that need to be made to make the house look like other houses in the neighborhood.
- If the big bank has not responded within three months, a city contractor will be assigned to bring the property up to code and the bank will be billed for the cost taking advantage of Code of Massachusetts Regulation (CMR) 105 sec. 410.960.
- If the big bank does not pay for the cost of the city contractor’s services within 3 months, the city will put a Municipal Lien on the property, which will require the big bank to reimburse the city before the property is sold.
- If the big banks have not reimbursed the people of Boston for the costs of the upkeep within a year, the city will apply for receivership of the property, allowing the existing structures to be razed and the property sold to developers who commit to building an appropriate structure on it.
- If the city is forced to take receivership of a neglected property owned by a big bank, the City of Boston will no longer send our business – or our investments to that big bank.
I don’t care how big these banks are. They have a responsibility to their neighborhoods and people who live them to maintain what they own, just like every homeowner. And if they don’t meet that responsibility, I am going to hold them accountable.