157 N Powell Ave, Columbus, OH 43204
Absentee property owners and abandoned properties are a major concern and heartache for community citizens. We struggle with City of Columbus services in getting issued resolved and we are told time and time again that nothing can be done or if a code violation is filed nothing can be done as well because the property owners cannot be reached. As a society and living together in an urban setting one cannot say that they have a right to allow a property they own to go in disrepair. This process not only degrades the neighborhood but it also brings in crime and follows with lower property values for other property owners in that neighborhood. Additionally it has been proven time and time again that when you allow graffiti, unkept properties, trash, and unkept alley conditions to come into your neighborhood, you will definitely see the crime element move in from drug houses, vandalism, theft, and prostitution. This is why we as community citizens need to be vigilant and keep up our neighborhoods. This means to get on the property owners either directly or indirectly that we as a neighborhood will not tolerate such activity. Document, report, and followup! You have a responsibility not only to your neighborhood but also to the future value of your property as well!
The City of Columbus and Franklin County needs to toughen up the laws regarding this. Some examples:
1. Any property in the City of Columbus that rents their property out needs to be listed with Franklin County Auditor site, [http://www.franklincountyoh.metacama.com/altIndex.jsp], as a rental property.
2. The Franklin County Auditor site needs to maintain better records in providing accurate methods of contacting these property owners. That means a valid telephone number or email address be included every year when these property owners file their property taxes.
3. Fines need to be assessed directly to the property owner and not against the property itself.
4. If a property owner cannot be reached for code violations for a period of one year, then the property needs to be confiscated and brought back up to code and community standard or to be torn down.
5. Better advocacy and laws need to be established for citizens ending up renting from these absentee property owners [slumlords]. These citizens tend to be of a disadvantaged economic standing and tend to be afraid to address their landlords with property issues in fear of being evicted.
This is an ever growing problem and we need to come together both from a community advocacy and from a city and county prospective. The city and county needs to hire more personnel to address this issue as well as community citizens needing to stand their ground and not allow these conditions to go unresolved. This means constant advocacy and vigilance from our community citizens to demand our city and county to step it up!
Neighbors Frustrated Police Can’t Stop Crimes At Abandoned Homes
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COLUMBUS – Imagine witnessing a crime, calling the police and then being told there’s nothing they can do about it.
That’s the situation frustrating neighbors trying to keep crime out of their East Columbus neighborhood.
Joyce Calamese loves the history and charm of her Old Oaks neighborhood.
She says one of the problems holding the neighborhood back is vacant, abandoned properties.
There is one next door to her home she says has been vacant for 5 to 6 years.
But the nuisance next door became more than that on August 31st.
“We heard a lot of noise, and my daugther saw a man climbing out of the window, so we called police,” said Calamese.
Calamese said the officers responded, and found a man inside the house. But instead of arresting the intruder, they sent him on his way.
“The officer said there’s nothing you can do about it because really you have no victim,” Calamese said. “After the police officers left, another guy came back and started taking windows out of the back.”
Columbus Police and even the City Attorney’s Office say those officers were correct.
Bill Hedrick with the City Attorney’s Office says he understands and shares Joyce’s frustration.
“In the end, the law requires you to have an accuser, and the accuser is the person that owns the property,” said Hedrick.
Hedrick said that includes crimes with witnesses.
“For instance, if you saw somebody take money from my wallet, but I’m not willing to file the charge, the case cannot be pursued,” he said.
Joyce and her neighbors disagree. They say they are also victims because they live near the crime.
The city isn’t completely powerless when it comes to vacant properties.
If the building has been declared legally abandoned by the city, the city then becomes the violated party or the “victim”, and police can arrest anyone they find inside.
The City Attorney’s office says neighbors can request help by calling 3-1-1 [614-645-3111] or visiting this link.