Portland signals more aggressive approach to ‘zombie houses’

Portland signals more aggressive approach to ‘zombie houses’

Signaling a more aggressive approach to the so-called “zombie houses,” Portland authorities have announced that they want to be able to foreclose on deserted, vacant and abandoned homes.

The city authorities also declared that they could seek to a court order to place such houses under the control of a third party, paving the way for cleaning up properties and put them back on the market.

During a City Council work session on Tuesday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said the city would take a more aggressive approach to deal with landowners who let house to slip into disrepair, making them havens for squatters or drug users.

Announcing plan to take a tougher approach to the “zombie” houses, Hales said. “What a disconnect it is that in a city with a red-hot housing market... where you can sell property for a very good return, we have zombie houses.”

Commissioners Nick Fish, Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz indicated that they supported Hales’ plan. Commissioner Steve Novick was absent from the session.

However, any foreclosure action would be lengthy as well as challenging. The city could foreclose on unpaid liens resulting from code violations or fees. But the owner of a vacant house could avoid losing possession of the property by simply getting current on lien payments. Secured creditors, such as banks, could also intervene and take control of the foreclosure process before the city could take possession.


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