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Muncie Considers Vacant And Abandoned Property Registration Requirement

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Community, Crime, Government, Local News
An abandoned home in Muncie's Old West End in 2016. (Photo: Emma Rogers)

The Muncie City Council will consider adding a registration list for vacant and abandoned properties around the city.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the idea is intended to help clean up many neglected buildings that are havens for crime or dangerous for neighborhood health.

The proposed ordinance – to be voted on in October – would require the owners of certain vacant and abandoned properties in Muncie to register the property with the city.  Out-of-state owners would also have to list an in-state property manager.

As city council attorney Dan Gibson explained to council members, the ordinance targets properties that are vacant, abandoned, and unsafe.

“So, simply being vacant, if you’re living up to your maintenance obligations, you’re not required to register.  So really, what this applies to is the property owner who’s not living up to their obligations.  They have a rehab order outstanding that they’ve not taken any action to comply with.  They’re behind on their taxes.  It’s been declared a public nuisance.”

Neighborhood activists across the city are supportive of the idea and spoke in favor of cleaning up unsafe eyesores.

Holly Juip lives in the Old West End.  She says neighborhood renters live in homes with no running water.  Other uninhabitable homes are being used by squatters.

“We are a modern city.  We are looking to have people invest in our city and live here, but none of that matters if we can’t take care of the homes and people that already live here.”

The ordinance imposes fees on property owners that don’t register or don’t clean up buildings as required by the city.  Some city council members say they’re worried owners that would be required to register properties are the types of owners who already don’t pay taxes and other fines.  When a home is sold – whether on a tax sale or by private sale – the new owner would have to pay all back taxes and fines, making cleaning up a property more expensive.

More than 800 tax delinquent properties in Delaware County were advertised as included in a September 29 county tax sale.