The Michigan State Senate passed a bill on Friday to prevent those with delinquent property tax payments to bid in foreclosure auctions and prevent homeowners from intentionally allowing their homes to go to foreclosure and buy them back in an auction for a lower price.
The bill, known as Michigan SB 295, is aimed at improving neighborhoods and reducing blight, which has become a significant problem in the state in the last few years. In Wayne County, where Detroit is located, the county tax office recently began foreclosure proceedings on a record 75,000 properties as part of an aggressive campaign to eliminate blight.
"Our tax foreclosure auctions are currently being abused by tax-dodgers, slum lords and schemers that are letting their properties fall into foreclosure rather than paying their property taxes, and this bill will go a long way toward cleaning up our neighborhoods and creating safe communities," said Michigan State Senator Tupac Hunter, minority floor leader and sponsor of the bill. "I sincerely appreciate the support of the Legislature to address this important issue facing Detroit and other communities, but I also want to recognize Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz and Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski for all of their hard work in concert with Mayor Mike Duggan to address land speculation and blight in Detroit."
The new bill requires prospective foreclosure auction bidders to register with the foreclosing governmental unit at least 14 days prior to the auction, and any person or entity who has had a property go into tax foreclosure in the previous three years or has unpaid blight or nuisance property violations is prohibited from bidding in tax foreclosure auctions, according to Hunter's website.
Wayne County sold about 10,700 properties in its 2014 tax foreclosure auction, with about 14,800 properties going unsold; the company that surveyed Detroit for the auction, Loveland Technologies, reported that there was about an 85 percent correlation between blight and tax-foreclosed properties, according to Hunter's website. Loveland Technologies also speculated that nearly 36,000 occupied residential homes will go into tax foreclosure in 2015. Wayne County officials begin foreclosure proceedings on a property if it is three years or more behind on tax payments.
Hunter has fought for many years to take measures to eliminate blight. On December 31, 2013, the Hunter-sponsored SB 39 was passed into law, allowing for the enforcing of a lien against a property involved in a blight violation and then discharged in the same manner as delinquent tax liens.