Foreclosure in Lehigh Acres Becomes Neighborhood Nuisance

Based on the figures released by Realtytrac, the number of properties in the Sunshine State that received a foreclosure filing in January was 12% higher than the month before. Florida is one of the many states with record highs in foreclosure rates. The foreclosure process is difficult and affects not just the homeowners at times, it can also affect the neighboring community.

In Lehigh Acres, foreclosures are becoming a blight to the community. Leigh Dana of, recently reported how the garbage that litters the area in the vicinity of 7th Street Southwest and Golfview Boulevard continues to bother its neighbors. Corporal Steven Cart of Lee County Sheriff's Office said in a statement, "It gives the people in the neighborhood the impression that the neighborhood doesn't care." Luckily, Lehigh Acres Community Initiative volunteers proactively picked up the garbage.

According to the vacant property registry corp, presently, there are about  2,400 Lehigh Acres foreclosure properties and these do not include bank owned properties. Realtytrc, on the other hand, gave a report that in every 184 homes there is about one property in Lehigh Acres experiencing foreclosure.

Based on the report of Dana, neighbors believe that the garbage is caused by unmaintained foreclosure properties. The report also mentioned that there are about 53 tons of trash collected in the area, which filled more than 26 dumpsters. Aside from the trash, neighbors are worried about the vermins that will plague their area. Also, the possibility of attracting crime because foreclosed properties are usually used by gangs and squatters.

Like the other Lehigh Acres resident who are disgraced by the blight, George Szymanski said, "This just hits everyone. They just feel there's no hope." Szymanski added, "I think once you put the onus on the bank. But the people who own these properties will come out here and clean them up. If they don't, they'll be cited by code enforcement."

In order to solve this growing problem, the county attorney presented an ordinance to commissioners to establish a county wide vacant property registry. The new registry would also include bank owned properties. Property owners; usually the banks and financial institutions have a legal responsibility to keep their possessions clean. They should not pass the burden to their neighbors. Most of the time, property owners hire outsiders to empty the property, drain the water, clean the bulk trash out and change locks. The problem usually happens when the property stands empty for a very long time without anyone maintaining it. Hopefully the new ordinance with help solve the problem.
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