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Peabody Enlists Attorney General's Help to Fix Up 'Blighted' Houses

Abandoned Housing Initiative run by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office seeks to encourage owners to assume responsibility for blighted properties or else put those homes in receivership.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt is enlisting the help of state Attorney General Martha Coakley's office to take action on some of the city's abandoned and dilapidated housing.

Bettencourt says that in response to concerns his office has received on such properties in city neighborhoods, Peabody is partnering with the AGO to help bring these homes "back up to code."

Twelve houses, which are spread across the city, were identified to be submitted for the Abandoned Housing Initiative run by Coakley's office.

The program assigns "blighted properties to court-appointed third party receivers," which would assume full responsibility for bringing the properties into compliance with local and state building code regulations.

That's if the actual owners take no action after being notified of the impending receivership. If those interested parties are unable or unwilling to make repairs, the AGO files a court petition to enforce the state sanitary code and to appoint a receiver.

“Abandoned homes are not just unsightly but they pose a real threat to public safety,” said Bettencourt in a statement. “The vast majority of homeowners take good care to maintain their property and should not be penalized or put in danger by those who are either unable or unwilling to do the same.”

In order to join the program, Bettencourt directed the city’s Code Enforcement division to inventory "problem properties" within the city, such as those which have fallen into disrepair and where the city's requests to make repairs went unheeded and without response from the owner of record.

The dozen homes in question are listed below:

  • 2 Broadmoor Ln.
  • 4 Broadmoor Ln.
  • 6 Broadmoor Ln.
  • 83 Winona St.
  • 6 Overlea Ave.
  • 31 Forest St.
  • 25 Dudley St.
  • 14 Shillaber St.
  • 11 Holten St.
  • 4 Hancock St.
  • 188 Lake St.
  • 2 Ethel Ave.

City records show that of the 12, two are owned by out-of-state residents and four properties are owned by commercial entities -- the rest are owned by individuals in Peabody, Topsfield, North Andover and Andover. Three of the properties are condos.

One house was listed as a foreclosure or repossession in 2011, while another was sold under a court order decree back in 2008 and a third was sold to a Peabody firm in 2010.

Coakley's office says abandoned housing is a significant problem in many Massachusetts communities, and to a certain extent is still part of the fallout from the housing crisis.

In many cases, as homeowners ended up in foreclosure proceedings, banks and other lending institutions merely boarded up properties but neglected to maintain them. And in other instances, it was more cost-effective for homeowners to just walk away and abandon their homes, and they did.

"A single abandoned property can pull down the housing values and, more important, have a significant impact on public safety for an entire neighborhood," says Coakley's office.

She says the properties end up sitting vacant and subject to vandalism or use in illegal activities, as well as straining municipal revenues with unpaid taxes and affecting the values of other homes in the neighborhood.

bjean January 07, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Thank God someone is trying to fix the eyesores! I have to look at the one on Forest st everyday!! Knock them down at least!
Saber Walsh January 08, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Totally agree that these kinds of properties become issues that can have impact on the public, but receivership? What gives the State the right to think it can step on private property if taxes, etc., have been paid? This looks like a scheme to put eminent domain to use as a government tool to get homes cheap and sell them for profit.
Alan Richmond January 08, 2013 at 03:37 PM
The properties should be taken over by the city and auctioned to the highest bidder to fix, or tear down. The new owners will pay tax on the property. Thus 2 things have been accomplished, blight removed from neighborhood and taxes added to the rolls.
bjean January 08, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I disagree. I've lived in my home for 5 years. The house on Forest Street has sat there untouched for probably much longer than that. If the home is unoccupied for years, no taxes are being paid, then the city should take it. It's not a "scheme" for eminent domain. It's abandoned property that brings down the value of the other homes surrounding it! Saber, go away!!

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