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Ohio Senate Says Yes to Curbing Urban Blight

law BHThe property preservation industry has taken another huge step toward reducing community blight with the passage of Ohio H.B. 463 in the Ohio State Senate.

The bill, which would ban the use of plywood in securing vacant and abandoned properties, passed by a count of 26 to 5 in the Ohio Senate on December 8 after receiving a nearly unanimous favorable vote (95 to 1) in the Ohio House of Representatives on May 11. The bill now needs only the signature of Ohio Governor John Kasich to become law, after which it will take effect in 90 days.

Division (A) of Section 2308.031 of Ohio H.B. 463 states, “No person shall use plywood to secure real property that is deemed vacant and abandoned under section 2308.02 of the Revised Code.”

Vacant and abandoned properties that contain windows boarded with plywood have often been found to attract vandalism, squatters, and in some cases, violent crime, in addition to contributing to the spread of blight. Stakeholders both in the property preservation industry and in the Ohio State Legislature who have fought for many years to reduce blight in neighborhoods celebrated the passage of H.B. 463.

One of those industry stakeholders who has pushed for the passage of anti-blight legislation and worked to create solutions to the spreading of blight is Robert Klein, who founded Safeguard Properties in Ohio in 1990 and currently serves as Chairman of SecureView. Klein has often said that “a vacant property is not like wine. It does not get better with age.”

Klein stated, “Ohio’s ban on the use of plywood is the first legislation of its kind and a game-changing, bold statement that will modernize the fight against community blight. The new legislation will benefit the industry by reducing vandalism and allow the on-time conveyance of the properties. It will protect neighborhoods, reduce blight in the community, and maintain the value of homes in the neighborhoods. It is our hope that more states will follow Ohio’s example.”

Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado said, “I applaud the Ohio State Legislature for passing H.B. 463. Vacant and abandoned properties are a crisis of national proportion. Using plywood to secure these homes only creates more problems in many cases, and it adversely affects entire communities. Banning its use will keep properties from appearing vacant, which will reduce the potential for crime and help maintain property values, ultimately making the community a better place to live.”

Ohio has long been at the forefront when it comes to innovative solutions to reduce neighborhood blight. Earlier this year, the state passed a “fast track” foreclosure law that would reduce foreclosure timelines in the state from two to three years down to as low as six months.

“(H.B. 463) enhances what we did to reduce blight in foreclosed properties,” said Ohio Rep. Cheryl Grossman, who was a co-sponsor of the fast track bill that passed earlier this year. “With the challenges that our police departments are facing and some of the situations they are responding to, it makes a lot of sense they are banning plywood.”

The passage of Ohio H.B. 463 was the second major advancement in the property preservation industry in the last two months with regard to banning the use of plywood. In early November at the National Property Preservation Conference, Fannie Mae announced a new allowable promoting the use of polycarbonate clearboard instead of plywood on pre-foreclosure properties, and that starting November 9, all vacant Fannie Mae-owned properties, whether in pre- or post-foreclosure state or REO, were required to use an alternative to plywood to secure vacant homes.

Click here to view the complete text for Ohio H.B. 463.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.
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