New Ordinance Aimed at Cleaning Up Abandoned, Vacant Properties

The City of Omaha is cracking down on abandoned and vacant properties.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to approve new rules. The new ordinance would make property owners more responsible for their upkeep. If the home is vacant and looks like it's vacant and isn't up to code homeowners would have 30 days to fix the violations or register their homes and face fines.

Omaha Together One Community says the city also needs to focus on banks that don't complete the foreclosure process and then don't take responsibility for the run down property. OTOC officials call that a "zombie mortgage.”

"...we also feel something needs to be done with the state bankers. So I think we have to look at the information about the Nebraska foreclosure laws and make sure then they are not allowed to go over five years on properties," said Karen McElroy with Omaha Together One Community.

OTOC members support the councils new ordinance that they hope will make homeowners more responsible for properties like these, but they plan to push harder to make banks responsible for the properties they foreclose.

There are people who believe that no new laws are needed. John Chatelain of the Omaha Property Owner’s Association says the ordinance is redundant.

“I think the ordinance is an unnecessary regulation. The city already has the tools to deal with the problem before,” said Chaterlain.

City Council officials hope the ordinance will put pressure on what they call "slumlords" to clean up their properties.