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Auburn posts ‘Wall of Shame’ to show state of abandoned bank-owned homes

The mortgage for this home is held by Saxon Mortgage Services. The city of Auburn has posted an email address and phone number so neighbors can get in contact with the owner. (Image courtesy City of Auburn)

If the neighbor’s out-of-control yard is becoming a blight on the neighborhood, there’s always the option of a knock on the door, but what do you do if property owner is some faraway out-of-state bank?

The city of Auburn is no longer letting these distant property owners get off scot-free. They’re posting images of abandoned bank owned properties on what they’re calling the “Wall of Shame,” along with contact information so neighbors can reach out to the negligent owners.

“I get a lot of phone calls and email from my citizens talking about an abandoned property, knowing that I’ll get code and compliance out there immediately,” says Mayor Pete Lewis.

“Citizens are encouraged to write, phone or email the mortgage holders or property preservation contacts and request action be taken on one or more abandoned properties,” the city writes. “These efforts may help convince the mortgage holders and property preservation companies to act more quickly and consistently.”

The Wall of Shame currently has 21 properties listed, highlighting mortgage holders including Bank of America, Fredie Mac, and Wells Fargo. The images show varied states of deferred maintenance. One image shows tires and a mattress in the yard, another fallen tree branches that have gone uncleared.

“I understand there some in the process of being fixed. The proof is when they’re cleaned up and they’ve been looked at by our people,” says Lewis.

The city acknowledges abandoned properties can have a significant impact on surrounding homes and want these banking institutions to hear from citizens in hopes they may take swifter action on the properties.

“Keep in mind, it could be the house next to yours that has grass that’s three feet high, windows broken in, etc. Nobody wants that in their neighborhood,” says Lewis.

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