‘Bad Neighbor Banks’ Take Hold In South Florida

Fish-Eye Lens

  • Banks make bad neighbors.

It’s been one of my mantras for years, and it’s a statement that is again reverberating across the country thanks to The Sun-Sentinel’s 3-part series “Bad Neighbor Banks”.

Thanks to the Sentinel, 60 Minutes, and the National Fair Housing Alliance, we are seeing the hard data that back up my assertion that banks, once they foreclose and take control of a property, just leave them to rot.

The grass no longer gets cut,the garbage accumulates, and before too long you end up with widespread blight not just in urban neighborhoods, but suburbia as well.

It’s the reason why I fight so hard to keep people in their homes. You and I are just better off when you have homeowners, vested in their houses and the neighborhoods they live in, keeping up their homes.

In the Sun-Sentinel’s series there is example after example of banks not doing even the most basic of maintenance. And their argument is usually, ‘It’s not our job’.

A bank has no investment in the neighborhoods you live in, beyond their own bottom line, and the banks have all but admitted it.

“The bank itself has no economic interest or ownership stake in the properties,” a spokesman for Deutsche Bank told the Sun-Sentinel.

So I ask you again, why would you ever want a bank as a neighbor?

The numbers don’t lie. The Sun-Sentinel found 10,300 code violations in bank-owned homes in South Florida since 2007. In the cities they tracked 40 percent of bank-owned homes were cited last year.

So chances are you are living next to one of these eyesores. And I’m betting you’re not too happy about it.

The threat of foreclosure blight is far from simply cosmetic. They become havens for illegal activity, for drug use and gangs.

The Sun-Sentinel cited a Miramar toddler’s 2009 death where a boy wandered into the backyard of an empty foreclosed house and drowned. The boy’s mom told the police the water was dark and full of garbage.

Foreclosure blight is just impossible to ignore, not that the banks and many at the top haven’t tried. Thankfully Florida governor Rick Scott finally took notice, not that I expect much to come from it.

On the one hand he sounded concerned, but in his very next breath he deflected blame from the banks, pointing instead to the poor economy as the reason for the rapid spread of foreclosure blight.

Last time I checked the economy doesn’t own these homes. Banks do.

Let’s not forget who put this governor into office. The banks fully supported Rick Scott’s campaign; I can’t imagine that he will do anything that will harm the banks.

Which means it’s up to the local cities and town to nail the banks and take back their neighborhoods.

Some municipalities are now trying more aggressive tactics, from issuing subpoenas to bank officials to citing banks before they have the title in their hands. But many just haven’t had the mustard to really go after the banks.

Most of the fines or liens issued against the banks just get ignored.

These are at best desperate tactics, if cities really want to get the banks attention, they should hire outside counsel and sue the pants off the banks.

Most local governments just don’t have the resources to take on the banks in a court of law, so just like homeowners, they need to lawyer up.

But the truth is most of these abandoned homes are just too far gone. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for banks to step up.

As I said in my last blog, Pam Bondi should be giving some of the $300 million Florida is getting from the foreclosure settlement to give to cities and towns, so they can raze these decrepit homes and take their neighborhoods back.

It’s time for the banks to stop being slumlords and rotten neighbors.

From The Trenches,

Roy Oppenheim

Foreclosure Defense Attorney And Legal Commentator Roy Oppenheim


Tags: bad neighbors, bank, bank owned homes, banking, Deutsche Bank, florida governor, foreclosure, neighbor, neighbors, Pam Bondi, Real Estate, Rick Scott, rotten, sentinel, slumlord, slums, South Florida, Sun Sentinel, suns, urban decay

4 responses to “‘Bad Neighbor Banks’ Take Hold In South Florida”

  1. Samdeanjackson says:

    What you are suggesting is that the settlement money should pay for the bank’s responsibility. Sounds like another bank bailout!!!!

  2. JackSchitt says:

    I point out: There are no (zero) bankers in jail.

  3. Mariae says:

    “It’s time for the banks to stop being slumlords and rotten neighbors.”

    I totally agree with Jack.

  4. Nobody says:

    One thing that’ll get banks to sell unmanned properties would be to make them pay property taxes like flesh-and-blood people do. Given the stupid Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people, it’s time to end corporate privledge by using discrimination laws, as humans are discriminated against for being flesh-and-blood people. Being human – with or without color – is the new “colored”.

    If I lived next to a house owned by Bane Capital whose CEO is a Matt Romney and had a swimming pool, I wouldn’t hesitate to freeze some veggie oil to lob over the fence to stop mosquito larve with the oil slick. After all, Bain Capital would do nothing to maintain the pool, and Mitt Romney, as per being halfway autistic, wouldn’t care if he owned a mosquito factory.