New law could make it easier to purchase blighted properties

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) – Blighted property is a growing issue across Louisiana.

Paul Mims, an East Baton Rouge Parish homeowner, says the property next to his home has been abandoned for years. He believes it’s a hazard for his family.

“If I can get it, probably would tear it down and rebuild it. My grand kids be back here playing ball, and I’m scared of snakes, so I have to stop them and have somebody sit out here and watch them while they’re playing ball,” Mims said.

He says he wants to purchase the abandoned piece of land, however, the property is now adjudicated for failure to pay property taxes, so the city is only a partial owner. Logan Anderson with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber says this makes it difficult to get the properties back into commerce.

“We had legal issues that made it very risky for investors to purchase blighted and adjudicated property because of the way that our legal system handled notification requirements,” said Anderson.

Currently, the law requires the owner to be notified before the property can be sold. If the owner is unreachable, then it’s harder for the home to be put back on the market to sell. Anderson says a new law could change that scenario.

“We’ve said you have to follow due diligence in trying to notify these people, but if there is someone who you absolutely can’t find, we’re not going to let that hold our community back. That’s a real drain and they’re not productive, and when you talk about thousands of properties, you’re also talking about thousands of vacant buildings that become kind of crime hot spots,” said Anderson.

Mims says it’s one of the biggest reasons he hopes to get control of this property soon.

“You have people come in mostly at night, some drug addicts come break in check it out. That’s the reason I got interested in this. I wanted to keep the grass cut, tear the house down, rebuild it or do what I want to do with it,” Mims said.

It’s a small step that can bring big improvements across the parish.

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