DeKalb County launches program to track vacant properties - CBS46 News

DeKalb County launches program to track vacant properties

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DeKalb County announced Wednesday it has launched a program that will require owners of vacant homes to register their properties. The goal is to track the properties and make sure they are maintained.

The county estimates it has 10,000 vacant homes. It already goes after banks that foreclose on properties, but this is the first time it will track down homeowners.

"You'll be fined," said interim CEO Lee May. "You have to go to court, and you have to abide by our laws."

May gathered with county leaders and community members at a home on Quail Court in Decatur. The site has been abandoned for years and is rundown and overgrown. Police said abandoned homes are not only eyesores, but also attract crime.

"That sounds like a great idea, because there's nothing worse than a blighted property," said Tom Smith, who lives nearby. "It degrades housing values, so it's great to hear that."

A resident must pay $100 to register a vacant home. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $1,000. Code enforcement will check to see if the properties are maintained.

County leaders said they will also rely on residents to report homes that are in disrepair.

"It will be our community advocates, our taxpayers in DeKalb County that will let us know, 'Look this property we believe is a vacant property, we want you to do the research,'" said May. "Then we'll go back and do the investigative research we need to do."

The county said registration fees and any fines collected will be used to hire additional code enforcement officers. 

"That's how we're measuring success," said Tonza Clark, registry manager. "It has nothing to do with the number of properties registered. The end goal is to get these properties cleaned up."

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