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Cleveland experts believe out-of-town landlords contribute to lopsided recovery

Posted at 10:46 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2019-02-05 09:42:55-05

Some Cleveland experts believe a few landlords, both local and out-of-town, are playing a role in continued blight in some northeast Ohio neighborhoods.

Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli pointed to the more than 9,000 evictions in Cleveland nearly every year. He said some of those evictions are being caused by irresponsible landlords who live in other states.

Brancatelli said some of the homes are left abandoned and are havens for crime. 

"We came here, we boarded it, and now we're going through the process, Brancatelli said.

"It's condemned and we're going to have to deal with guy who owns one hundred properties in the county."

Brancatelli told News 5 about one family that was left homeless after renting a house on Forman Avenue that was condemned; the owner was more than $20,000 behind in property taxes.

He said these homeowners often quit claiming the deeds to these condemned houses multiple times to avoid city prosecution and demolition proceedings.

"We're seeing this happen more an more," Brancatelli said.

"The guy got the house on a quit claim, he didn't pay the bills, the water got shut-off and this family is now on the streets."

"That creates a huge problem, both in terms of enforcement, as well as for these young families who move into these houses not knowing the property is condemned," he said.

Cleveland Housing Court is trying to fight back by placing a "no rent order" on condemned homes, but Brancatelli said changes in state law are needed to prevent condemned homes from changing ownership so easily, keeping them on the rental market.

"We need to make it harder to trade these toxic quit claims titles back and forth from owner to owner," Brancatelli said.

"This guy took the title to it knowing there was $20,000 in back taxes., knowing that it's condemned, because we have a disclosure form, but they're still out renting it and taking cash from these families."