Letter to the Editor (Queens Courier):
The issue of unkempt properties has plagued our communities since the housing bust.
The Department of Sanitation addresses properties with garbage but does not address those with unkempt grass/weeds. These properties must be addressed as well.
Often half built properties and those in foreclosure do not have garbage, but have grass/weeds that are THREE feet high. This is my proposal:
Department of Sanitation advises property owner/bank that a property is unkempt (failure to cut grass, remove weeds, trim hedges that block sidewalks etc.) and gives the owner 10 or 15 business days to comply.
If they do not comply, the Department of Finance will assess a surcharge on the next quarterly property tax bill (percentage amount to be determined). That surcharge will be used to pay for the expenses of having the property maintained on a monthly basis by private landscaper (contract given by RFP).
This surcharge can be removed once the property owner/bank can show proof that a landscaper has been hired to address future clean-ups or submits a signed affidavit with the name of the person who will maintain the property.
It is in the city’s interest to do this. The banks that have interest in these properties continue paying taxes even when the homeowners fail to pay their mortgages and the escrow for the taxes. The surcharge will be a higher tax and the city would not have to worry about how to collect for the clean-up.
Community Board 8