January 8, 2014
by J. Skipper Ray
Wilson & Associate, PLLC – USFN Member (Arkansas, Tennessee)
The city of Memphis, Tennessee entered the vacant property registration (VPR) arena by passing its version in April of 2013 (Ordinance # 5477), although it did not immediately begin implementing and enforcing the ordinance. Memphis has now developed an online registry, pursuant to the ordinance. In furtherance of this, it issued a press release at the beginning of the fourth quarter (in early October 2013), urging mortgagees to begin registering their applicable properties and paying the $200 per year registration fee.
The city’s VPR form can be found at http://www.cityofmemphis.org/Portals/0/pdf_forms/VacantPropertyRegistration.pdf.
They have also set up FAQs, which can be viewed at http://www.cityofmemphis.org/Portals/0/pdf_forms/vpr_faqs.pdf.
Ultimately, though, the ordinance may not have as much of an impact on servicers and mortgage companies as VPR ordinances in other jurisdictions. This is due to its wording (and this has been confirmed with the city attorney’s office), which provides that the ordinance is only applicable to vacant properties that are also tax delinquent. That is a point that bears repeating and restating: Even though a bank-owned property is vacant and/or abandoned, it is only subject to the city’s VPR ordinance if it is also tax delinquent.
The ordinance, however, does not specify whether the tax delinquency is specific to Memphis City taxes or county (Shelby) property taxes, or both. Clarification of this point was requested from the city attorney’s office, which has now confirmed that only Memphis City property tax delinquencies are to be considered in determining application of the Memphis VPR ordinance – not county (Shelby) property tax delinquencies.
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