City cracks down on property owners for unsafe buildings

FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) – Frankfort is cracking down on property owners of unsafe houses and buildings. City leaders hope a newly established Hearing Authority will force property owners to comply.

“I’d just like to see neighborhoods go back to where people care and care about their neighbors,” said resident John Reid.

Viewers may recognize Reid, not for his face, but for the ‘No Slumlord’ signs which popped up around the city in 2012. Reid made the signs to draw attention to landlords he said were renting properties that are unfit for living.

“We have a lot of blight houses and a lot of rundown areas, and we ended up starting noslumlord.com because of that to give people information or how people are being treating in the community by these landlords,” said Reid.

The Board of Public Works established a new Hearing Authority on Monday. Mayor Chris McBarnes said negligent property owners will receive orders to comply with the city’s building inspector for unsafe homes.

“The Hearing Authority will have the ability to levy fines against property owners that do not comply with these laws under the unsafe building law and even to an extent to ordering a demolition process to occur as well,” said McBarnes.

Property owners will get 10 days to provide a plan to fix the home. McBarnes said the city’s intent is not to demolish buildings, but rather gain compliance and attract people to Frankfort’s neighborhoods.

“Now, building owners that want to work with our building inspector’s department to upkeep their properties to the standards that our state puts in place, we want to work with them. No doubt about that. But for individuals who choose not to, we want them to know that there will be consequences,” said McBarnes.

Either way, Reid said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Now the city’s got it in full gear, hopefully, and they’re going to be behind us and take care of the problem,” said Reid.

The Hearing Authority will be three members from the city’s Board of Public Works.

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