Aurora Proposal Aims To Spruce Up Foreclosures

Ordinance Holds Lenders Accountable

Aurora City Council members continue to debate an ordinance that would hold lenders responsible for the upkeep of homes in foreclosure.

“What we want to do is make sure they step up to the plate,” said Council Member Bob FitzGerald,e who spearheaded the proposal.

Faced with more than 6,400 foreclosures in Aurora last year, the ordinance would be the first of its kind in the Denver metro area if passed.

Under the plan, lenders would be required to register contact information with the city of Aurora and be subject to inspections and potential fines if city codes are violated.

“We’re responsible for the neighborhoods in the city, (lenders) have to, in my estimation, be responsible for their properties where they have an equitable and legal interest,” FitzGerald said.

FitzGerald called abandoned homes in disrepair “toxic,” because of the potential negative affect on neighboring property values.

Concerns of possible lawsuits have been raised by the banking and credit union communities -- about legally going onto properties.

One council member who voted against the proposal during an initial reading said she understands the need for assistance. “But at the same time I think we need to make sure it’s a fair ordinance so lenders are not held liable,” Renie Peterson told 7NEWS Friday.

A representative from the Colorado Credit Union Association spoke in opposition to the ordinance at a recent Aurora City Council meeting.

FitzGerald, who said the ordinance is modeled after similar laws in California, called concerns of liability a “red herring.”

“We’re only asking for an exterior view, we’re not asking them to go inside the property,” FitzGerald said, and added provisions within the deed of trust on many properties allows access to the inside too.

He said language relating to trespassing will likely be added to the measure.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Heather, a southeast Aurora resident who asked her last name not be used.

She said an abandoned home with plywood being used as a garage door across the street made it difficult when she recently tried to sell her home.

“You’d have people come over to look at your house and go, ‘yeah, never mind,’ ” she said.

Heather supports the plan, which would require a $50 registration fee. Fines for not complying with city codes cold run $200.

“It’s (the lenders) investment, just as it is our investment as homeowners,” Heather said.

FitzGerald said the ordinance could come back up for another formal reading before the City Council sometime in February.