BethlehemCouncil: Ordinance requires banks to register foreclosed homes
Bethlehem City Council unanimously voted July 16 in favor of the first reading of an ordinance that would require banks to register foreclosed homes in the city.
The registration fee would be $200 per property. Banks would be able to enter information about each property into a user-friendly database, which would be compiled by city contractors. The ordinance would make it easier for the city to know where to direct complaints about tall grass, dead animals and other problems associated with foreclosed homes.
"I hope this works as well as we think it will and I'm glad to see it moving forward," Council President Eric Evans said.
Banks that fail to register their properties would face steep fines; a $1,000 fine for the first offense, $1,000 again for the second offense, $3,000 for third offense, $7,000 for fourth and a $10,000 for the fifth offense.
At a community development meeting in late June, the city's chief housing inspector Michael Palos called the registry "a useful tool." He said that banks don't call to tell the city about a foreclosure and he often doesn't find out about it until neighbors complain that the grass is 42 inches high.
Bethlehem is following in the footsteps of Allentown and Easton, who have also enacted similar ordinances in recent months.
The ordinance will be voted on for final passage next month.
Due to Musikfest, council has bumped up the start time of their next meeting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in City Hall.