Tucson can foreclose on plague properties

Owners of vacant and neglected structures will receive multiple notices and opportunities to fix the problem
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Problem properties plaguing Tucson neighborhoods can ultimately be taken from their owners. However, those owners must receive notification and court action before that final action occurs.

One property on N. 16th Place has been notified that the owner must rehabilitate or demolish the structures there under the Vacant and Neglected Structure program. No trespassing signs prevent a knock on the door there, but when owners don’t respond to the city, it can back up its words with more action: foreclosure.

Neighbors on North 16th Place don’t have a problem with the person who owns the property that’s on notice from code enforcement, but they recognize it could be in better shape.

“It should be like more cleaner,” said Karen Ochoa, who frequently visits her aunt here.

She said she worries about the many cats she sees there.

“I feel really bad for the cats. They’re like running around and you know the cars will run over,” Ochoa said.

“It’s a process that really is highly motivated by the homeowner to address those so it never gets to the foreclosure process,” said Assistant Tucson City Manager Liz Morales.

She explained that Tucson has added foreclosure to the actions that code enforcement can take, but it also gives property owners a 30-day heads-up before they’re even issued a notice of violation. From there, the owner has another 60 days to fix things before getting a citation and court action. That process, from pre-notice to possible demolition, can take six months.

“This addition, this improvement to the program really gives us a couple more tools to be able to address that,” Morales said.

Beyond that, foreclosure runs a total of two years.

“And now to have to foreclose, we don’t want to do that but it allows us to say this is an additional tool if you don’t participate in this process and help us,” Morales said.

Adding foreclosure is a last resort but aimed to keep neighborhoods clean.

“Have a clean environment. That’s what I think,” Ochoa said.

Any liens by the city on the property must go unpaid a year before foreclosure happens.

Phoenix has had a similar program for eight years, with only four or five yearly foreclosures.

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