Public Hearing on Past Due Accounts, Blight Assessment

by Charles Fazio
(Monroe)

The City of Monroe is holding a Public Hearing for past due accounts do to expenses for cutting weeds and grass on a property I recently purchased. They are charging me $112 for services rendered on August 12, 2010. We purchased the property in January 2011. A title search was conducted prior to purchasing the property and no liens were identified. The property was purchased as a foreclosure. Am I responsible for the charges?


ANSWER:

Technically, I would say you are not responsible for past due, prior to purchase, Blight Assessments on the property you purchased. However, legally, you’re more than likely responsible for the charges.

Definition: Local Governments will maintain a property where a property owner fails and assess charges to the property tax rolls of the property.
Violations of Ordinances such as grass cutting, broken windows, trash, abandon vehicles, and anything in violation of Building Safety Code is referred to as “Blight”.
These Ordinances are necessary to maintain property values!

What You Can Do...

Inquire, negotiate, and appeal;
by contacting your City Department, Realtor®, and Title Company,
to seek a resolution to have the Blight Assessments dropped, reduced, or paid by the Seller or Title Company.

The easiest step is a phone call. Call your Realtor® if you used one, or call the Title Company that insured your property upon purchase. (Find their phone numbers in your closing documents.)
Politely ask them, “Can you resolve this past due account and get it paid?” Ask those / Your “Professional Service Providers” to provide you the professional service you paid for, to resolve the City Assessments your Seller incurred.


The Seller’s real estate Agent could also be contacted and asked to take responsibility or a portion of the Blight Charges.

Are you legally liable for the Blight Assessments?

Let's look at the legalese (formal language used in legal documents) in the Title Policy to see who is legally liable for the past due assessments.


In the Title Policy of my last real estate investment property there is a “HOLD HARMLESS – Assessments” page. It says:

”The undersigned purchaser(s), do hereby agree to hold the Title Agency and their underwriters harmless from any assessments, bills, invoices or other demands for payment made by a governmental unit which, as of the above date (date of closing), are not a lien included on a tax bill levied against the captioned property.”

The Problem:

The Public Hearing on Past Due Accounts on the Blight Assessments on your property are because;
there was a delay from the time of City Services, to the assessment of the Blight costs to the property’s tax roll.

The Title Companies include this document because they know Government Documentation is (slow) time-consuming.

If you signed the above mentioned document in your Title Policy at your property purchase closing, you agreed to pay such assessments billed to your property tax roll, even though the date of City Service was prior to your purchase.
The Blight Assessment was not levied on your property at the time of your purchase.

Thus, you would be liable for the Blight assessed to your property.

Still, I would make the calls mentioned above.
Without too much effort, someone may volunteer to pay or reduce the amount you owe.

Joe Trometer

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