Louisville, Kentucky’s city government chose a unique way to punish landlords with vacant properties: threatening to publish their names and addresses in a local newspaper as a means of “shaming” these property owners into paying outstanding fines assessed by the city for property maintenance issues.
The city claims it is owed over $17 million in fines that it assessed, but is unable to collect from property owners that officials have dubbed “absentee landlords”. The Council approved a budget of $20,000 to take out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper in order to embarrass the landlords. A list of some of the top offenders, along with some resident addresses was released and published on the Internet. Those listed owe over $12,000 in fines, and many owe in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Representatives claim that problems with vacant properties draw funds away from other projects, and that the city is already facing budget problems. Many of the homes were foreclosures and are owned by banks. One representative indicated that the list is comprised of investors who “service mortgages all over the country” and don’t care about Louisville, or the unkept look of the properties. There were no local banks listed.
A warning was issued in an attempt to motivate investors to pay up. It is not known at this time whether the measure was effective.
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