Land banks can help get properties back on tax rolls

By Kim Shindle | Nov. 6, 2012 | 3 min. read

New legislation which would allow local municipalities to create land banks is being touted by newspapers across the state as a means to attack urban blighted properties.

The land bank legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia), will give municipalities the ability to set up land banks to put blighted properties back on the tax rolls. A county, city or borough with a population of 10,000 or more can create a land bank. Smaller municipalities can work together in a partnership to meet the population criteria.

Land banks are locally created and locally controlled entities with the single purpose of inventorying, managing and marketing blighted, abandoned and tax foreclosed properties. Land banks are state enabled and make sure every property has a clear, insurable title, helping deteriorated and unused properties get back onto market.

PAR President Frank Jacovini said, “We believe land banks will help in larger cities like Philadelphia. The land banks legislation should help streamline the process in selling blighted properties. In Philadelphia, there are three or four city entities that own properties, each working under a different set of rules. The land bank will bring the properties together in one department.”

Realtor® Bill Festa, vice chair of PAR’s Land Use and Local Issues Subcommittee, believes land banks will be beneficial to many cities. “Our research shows that there are many municipalities that own a lot of properties and they are terrible at managing and disposing of these properties. This legislation would allow all of the entities within a city like Philadelphia or Harrisburg to transfer their properties into the land banks to make the process easier,” Festa said. A land bank can convey, exchange, sell, lease or mortgage interests in real property and is required to maintain its properties in accordance with the statutes and ordinances of the jurisdiction where the property is located. School districts can participate in land banks through an intergovernmental cooperation agreement.

Festa believes that smaller municipalities will have to decide individually whether they need to have a land bank. “They may already have a system in place to deal with blighted and/or abandoned properties but for bigger cities, this is definitely the way to go,” he added.

Some have expressed concern that cities will begin selling properties on their own. “I’ve heard some concerns that cities may become overly aggressive and selling the properties themselves,” said Jacovini. “I think they’ve already proven they can’t sell properties so I don’t think this will become an issue.”

Looking for events?

Pennsylvania Realtors® can access monthly webinars and much more.

Upcoming Events

Did you like this post?

Click on a star to rate this post!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Not a Realtor®? Learn how to become a member.