Ohio ‘fast-tracking’ foreclosures to address blighted properties

Three years in the making, a new Ohio law is being lauded as a possible model for states across the country looking for ways to deal with the problem of abandoned, blighted properties. HB 390, which took effect this fall, establishes a “fast track” foreclosure process. According to The Columbus Dispatch, the process has sometimes taken two or three years, during which time the vacant property can become a problem for surrounding homes and an entire community.

Under the new law, mortgage servicers will be able to get possession of the property in as little as six months, lessening the chance for structural deterioration and increasing the likelihood that the home can be sold. Before this expedited foreclosure process can begin, however, a judge must first find, by a preponderance of evidence, that the mortgage loan is in default. Additionally, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the home is abandoned — for example, broken doors, boarded-up windows, disconnected utilities and vandalism.

In August, foreclosure rates in the Midwest ranged from 1 in every 893 housing units in Illinois to 1 in 19,101 in North Dakota, according to RealtyTrac. Only Illinois and Ohio had foreclosure rates higher than the U.S. average.

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