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The Trouble With Unoccupied Real Estate Properties


If you own a rental property, nothing stresses you out more than the times when the property is sitting vacant.  As annoying as it is when tenants complain about the property you are renting to them, as expensive at it is to repair the properties in a timely fashion, and as exhausting as it is to argue with tenants about paying rent on time and about which of the repairs are your responsibility and which are theirs, the worst tenant is no tenant at all.  You as a landlord are responsible for maintaining the property, even though no one is paying rent; if you don’t, your chances of finding a new tenant or selling the property at an agreeable price are slim to none.  Prince George’s County, where abandoned real estate properties are abundant, also finds them troublesome, but not for the same reasons as individual landlords do.  If you own properties without tenants, and these properties are a thorn in your side, contact a Washington, D.C. real estate lawyer.

How Unoccupied Real Estate Properties Cause Problems for Property Owners and the Community

People complain about abandoned real estate properties for a variety of reasons.  They can easily fall into disrepair; the longer they remain unoccupied, the more time and money it takes to fix them up so that they are livable again.  The presence of unoccupied apartment buildings tends to drive down the standard of living in a neighborhood; the buildings nearby the unoccupied one are less appealing to tenants, and landlords put less work into maintaining them, since no tenants choose to live there unless it is the only thing they can afford.

Prince George’s County imposes fines on landlords whose rental properties remain unoccupied for a certain period of time, but under the current law, the maximum fine the county can impose on landlords is $1,000 per year.  This is enough to compel individual landlords to take action, such as by selling the property at whatever price buyers are willing to pay, but for banks and LLCs, which own the majority of the county’s unoccupied real estate, it is chump change.  They just pay the fine and continue to neglect the properties.

Prince George’s County Aims to Hold Corporate Owners of Abandoned Properties Accountable

The Department of Permitting, Inspection, and Enforcement (DPIE) in Prince George’s County, is attempting to address the problem of the county’s abandoned real estate properties.  The number of abandoned buildings in the county is approximately 4,500, but there is no official registry listing them.  DPIE has proposed creating such a registry so that there can be a uniform record of where the properties are located, who owns them, and how long they have remained unoccupied.  They also want to find a way to impose daily fees on the landlords of unoccupied buildings, although some county officials have cautioned that applying the daily penalties uniformly could be prohibitively expensive for individual landlords if the fees were enough to be a motivating factor for corporate landlords.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About the Hassles of Being a Landlord

A Washington, D.C. real estate attorney can help you if a property you own has remained unoccupied for an extended period.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.



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