Chicago’s vacant buildings law doesn’t apply to Fannie and Freddie (WBEZ)

A federal judge has ruled Chicago’s vacant building ordinance no longer applies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as mortgagees. This decision comes as the city continues to struggle with thousands of foreclosed homes.

The Federal Housing Financing Agency argued Chicago can’t make a law on a federal agency nor could it tax the federal government. On Friday, the court agreed.

Under the city’s 2011 vacant building ordinance, owners and mortgagees have to pay $500 to register a vacant building. The servicer must maintain the building by city standards, including securing the property and cutting the grass. Each offense could mean a $500 to $1000 fine.

The FHFA filed a complaint in regards to how the law addresses mortgagees.

The agency said it will continue the upkeep of buildings based on their own standards.

Katie Buitrago, a senior policy associate at the Woodstock Institute, says this ruling could mean challenges to other cities that have similar laws.

“It’s great that FHFA has their own standards, but there needs to be an external accountability system in place, like a city’s vacant buildings ordinance, to make sure that there’s consequences when they don’t live up to their own standards,” she said.

 

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