Cheektowaga Wants To Shame Banks on Vacant Homes

7:00 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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Cheektowaga, NY - There may be a sign of a solution for that headache of vacant, foreclosed homes which fall into disrepair. 
The town of Cheektowaga may soon point out who is to blame with the actual use of a sign.

It's pressure and publicity and they feel an actual sign in front of those properties may convince a bank executive to actually do something about a foreclosed property that may be neglected. 

Cheektowaga Councilman Charlie Markel says the town has determined that there are 297 foreclosed, vacant properties owned by banks in the town limits. Some of them, like the house at 150 Autumnwood Lane have been vacant for some time with the serious need for repairs and maintenance because they affect the property value of nearby homes.

Markel says there is always the problem of trying to find the right contact at the bank, in this case HSBC, to get anything done. He says some banks just stall the process, pay the taxes and let maintenance go because its cheaper for them. But now signs could go up on the lawn right in front of the house with the bank listed and phone numbers so that neighbors and town residents could send a strong message to a bank about such a property.

Markel says "I want people to call the banks and hold them accountable. I mean we're all held accountable for stuff and if they don't come to the table, that's what we're prepared to do for the town Hopefully everybody makes those phone calls to get on their case and maybe they can do something. It's not mostly the local branches. It's the CEO's, it's the CFO's that are making the decisions. So I'm not looking to punish the local banks where people work hard and live in our community. It's trying to get the attention of the people who are on the top that can make the decisions."

Markel says some bad publicity regarding a vacant, foreclosed house on Gary Lane did bring Bank of America managers around to start making repairs like a new roof, landscaping, and other improvements. They may auction it off.

Markel says ultimately the town could move forward with a procedure to demolish a run-down home and then slap the bank with the 50 - thousand dollar demolition fee by placing it on the tax bill collected by Erie County.

A spokesman for HSBC says they will now check to determine if there are issues with its properties. They say they use a property inspection firm for vacant homes and are committed to following the law.



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