Thursday, September 30, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 13-SMOKEY CITY-UPDATE

A Small piece of good news. It appears that one of the properties featured on a previous edition of BLIGHTWATCH Episode 8 has received some attention from the city of Memphis. The Property at 1077 Ayers is secretly owned by lending giant Wells Fargo via it's subsidiary AMERICA'S SERVICE COMPANY. The good news is since that time the City of MEMPHIS dept of COMMUNITY ENHANCEMENT has cut the high grass around the three lots featured. Now while there is still plenty of work that needs to be done we are glad to see some action on this property. We'd like to thank the Division of Community Enhancement for this prompt attention to this matter. However we will be following up with area residents and with city officials to monitor this situation. The job is far from finished.

Video


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 12-ORANGE MOUND

On this edition of Blightwatch we continue to look into blighted properties in the Orange Mound neighborhood...sadly there are many. Case in point the vacant house at 687 Whittington. This wreck of a house was owned by a local real estate investor who surrendered the property to America's Servicing Company. ASC is a fully owned subsidary of leanding giant WELLS FARGO...however, locally this property is registered under the name of the previous owner. Thus all code fines, health code fines and unpaid taxes are in her name and not in the name of WELLS FARGO despite the fact that this property has been theirs for over three years now. The back taxes on this property amounts to $1773.63.
In addition we take a look at two other vacant properties, one a model on how to secure a vacant, the other...a county owned ruin that is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

video


Monday, September 27, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 11-ORANGE MOUND

Ok...let's take this one slowly....

In this addition of Blightwatch we take a look at a second strange case of what I call "phantom blight". Similar to the the previous addition in BELTLINE
According to federal bankruptcy court records the former owner of this property at 1331 Tunstall surrendered this home to local banking company FIRST BANK in 2007. Since that time not only has First Bank not registered their ownership of said vacant or provided any needed maintenance but it is also important to note that the unpaid taxes on this property amounts to $3571.19.
Thus the unpaid taxes, code and health code fines are all falsely under the name of the previous owner.In addition the costs of cutting the grass and the upcoming board up is all at a cost to local taxpayers and the poor condition of this property negatively effects the public health,safety, economic and quality of life of this community.

In addition to this negligent and grossly irresponsible behavior on the part of First Bank there is another and possibly even more disturbing problem here...

This property at 1331 Tunstall is unlisted in the county registry. Neither the Assessor, Trustee,Register nor City of Memphis Treasurer websites have any listing for 1331 Tunstall. According to these sources the property in question is incorrectly listed as 1329 Tunstall an address that does not physically exist. Now according to those same sources 1329 Tunstall is being seized by Shelby County and will be auctioned off for back taxes. However since the property is NOT 1329 Tunstall but in fact 1331 Tunstall one has to wonder if such a transaction would even be legal among other concerns...

A disturbing number of cases such as this have popped up from time to time and makes me wonder about just how fragile our local ownership directory really is.

Afterall our local officials can only process the information they are given, but if banks are legally allowed to drag their feat about property transactions, then countless numbers of code fines, and back taxes are completely unenforceable. What's worse our local officials have their hands tied. In addition this is a clear case of the need for comprehensive code reorganization and integration of code and code related services and departments. Otherwise...one has to question everything we know about our local tax base and structure. We may be so much more in the dark then even cynics like myself believe.
Click here for video


Friday, September 24, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 9-New Chicago Owner responds

Just spoke with a Mr Norman with Original Resources Inc in California the owner of this property at 1269 Capital. I explained the condition of his property, the neighborhood complaints and sent a link to this video. We requested that his company not only bring this house up to code, but hire a maintenance company to keep the place in order until they sell it. We are awaiting their reply and preparing to pass this information along to Code enforcement.


Click here for video


Thursday, September 23, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 10-BELTLINE

The property at 395 Boston is a breeding ground for snakes, rats and vermin. The problem?.....according to the County Assessor, Register,Trustee and City Treasurer websites, there IS NO 395 BOSTON! Thus code Enforcement has been baffled as to who to hold responsible. The property is incorrectly listed at 385 Boston and... this simple typo is causing harm to residents of this community.

There are according to city/county tax agencies TWO 385 Bostons. One physically at 385 and another which is physically at 395.
Thus Code enforcement has no way of determining who owns this 395 property as they would not know to check the registry of 385. The only reason I knew to do so was because I found the bankruptcy information of the previous owner which has the correct address.

This simple typo and the resulting problems highlights the need for reorganization of all CODE agencies with mandated prompt information sharing between departments.
This problem could and should have been caught sooner.

Now the challenge is determining who created the error in the first place as if it is a government error, then it is relatively easier to fix....however if it was an error made by a former owner who was registering the property...then it would legally require that those same persons correct the mistake. A mistake possibly 10-20 years old.
These people may be very difficult to find and contact...in the meantime the true owner HOMECOMING FINANCIAL owes $3035.99 in unpaid taxes, this does not include the numerous code and health code violation fines and liens.HF has left this property registered under the name of the previous owner thus adding to the confusion in this case.

Click on the link for details.

Video



Friday, September 17, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 8-SMOKEY CITY

Another blighted property with a familiar design. This "gem" is secretly owned
by WELLS FARGO subsidiary AMERICA'S SERVICING COMPANY and owes $2555.73
in unpaid taxes. ASC/WF has not registered ownership with local
authorities and as such is guilty of TAX EVASION. via ASC WELLS FARGO owns other blighted properties as well. We will keep a running total for them as well.
video


Thursday, September 16, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 7-New Chicago

Yet another property secretly owned by JP MORGAN CHASE with $1493.42 in unpaid local property taxes. JP MORGAN CHASE current total of MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY back taxes=$18,235.42 not counting... code fines and or liens...

The scheme's sick beauty is that the banks avoid these taxes and fees in a number of ways. In some cases they simply do not bother to register the transfer of property thus leaving the previous owner "on the hook" with the fines and fees. If they find a buyer then they assert their rights, roll the fines and fees into the sale price and there you go. If they don't want the property or cannot move it, then they just let it sit there under the name of the previous owner until the county seizes it for back taxes...and poof..it's gone. Dirt simple

Another method is simply refusing to take back property surrendered to them in a bankruptcy process. In many such procedures the ruling is that the banks MAY proceed in taking the property, but it does not say that SHALL be required to do so. Thus banks in our crazy system get to pick and chooses which defaulted properties they want and basically let the rest sit in the previous owners name until the County takes them over into the Land Bank and sells it "hopefully" for unpaid taxes. As the original owner has been freed from liability and the banks have refused the surrender, you have a jacked up system where blight is encouraged. and no one is responsible.

However...there are options that communities and neighborhood organizations can use to fight back, which we will be discussing here and in community meetings across the city in the coming weeks.
You Do not have to accept this in our neighborhoods...it does not have to be this way.

Still it's enough to make a person ask...why should any sane person in Shelby County bother paying property taxes if they are only enforced on working class people and the value of your property is not defended?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BLIGHTWATCH 6-NEW CHICAGO

Banking giant JP MORGAN CHASE secretly owns vacant properties still
registered locally in the name of the previous owner which is a form of
TAX EVASION.
The unpaid taxes on this house=$2099.27.
... JP MORGAN CHASE current total of MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY back taxes=$16,742 not counting... code fines and or liens...


BLIGHTWATCH 5-NEW CHICAGO

Another two properties secretly owned by banking giant JP MORGAN CHASE,
yet these properties are still registered locally in the name of the
previous owner. Thus JP MORGAN owes MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY
$10,653.32 in back taxes on these two properties alone. This brings their
current total to $13,642.73. not counting... code fines and or liens...

BLIGHTWATCH 4-Waverly/Messick

‎2977 Waverly. This blighted property is listed under the name of J. Turner, but other documents indicate that REGIONS BANK, may be the responsible party in either case the unpaid city/county taxes for the past FOUR YEARS add up to $5471.50...not counting code fines and liens.

BLIGHTWATCH 3-Waverly/Messick

Locally based FIRST BANK calls Itself, "COMMUNITY BANKING AT ITS BEST" and "WHERE YOU MATTER MOST" However FIRST BANK owns the vacant at 3004 Waverly and has avoided paying TAXES and keeping the property up to CODE for the past 3 YEARS!
FIRST BANK's current total of unpaid taxes...$2106.95

Blightwatch 2-Evelyn and the Shadow inventory

Another vacant in the Rozelle-Annesdale neighborhood.
Oddly enough the original owner was foreclosed on in 2007 yet the bank even after three years has yet to register their ownership of this property. So not only is banking giant JP MORGAN CHASE guilty of numerous code and health violations..they are guilty of Tax evasion!
The property at 1916 Evelyn is three years behind in back taxes.Thus JP MORGAN BANK OWES $4009.68 to MEMPHIS and SHELBY COUNTY
I'll be keeping score as to how much that adds up to as we go on...This is but the tip of the iceberg in the Memphis Shadow Inventory!

BLIGHTWATCH part 1-Evelyn

A tour of vacant and blighted properties in Memphis. This property on Evelyn is killing the neighborhood around it. This property has been vacant for 15 years according to local residents and despite numerous calls to Code enforcement, the Health dept. and the Mayor's service hotline, nothing has ever been done. In fact the door is covered with notices from Code enforcement, but what's the point of placing notices on a vacant building. The people in this area need action...in addition we will be taking a serious look at the irresponsible property owners that created this situation in the first place.