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Proposed Las Vegas ordinance makes lenders responsible for vacancy upkeep

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The Las Vegas City Council is considering a proposal that would make lenders responsible for the maintenance of vacant properties in default or foreclosure, or else face possible fines or jail time. The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Steven Ross, would force a mortgagee to inspect properties in pending or actual default and, if vacant, register them with the city for $200. The mortgagee would have to then designate a manager to keep up the vacant property. Required upkeep would include landscaping "maintained up to the neighborhood standard," such as regular watering and mowing. Violators of the ordinance would get a maximum $1,000 fine or six months in jail for each offense. Each day of violation would constitute a separate offense. One in every 110 housing units in Las Vegas received a foreclosure filing in September, according to data firm RealtyTrac. The firm says there are 30,259 foreclosure homes in the city. Chicago passed a similar law in July that made mortgagees responsible for maintenance on vacant homes in default or foreclosure. Some cried foul, saying the ordinance violated lenders' 14th Amendment right to equal protection. The Las Vegas proposal, which came before the City Council on Tuesday, will be considered again at a Nov. 15 hearing. The ordinance could face changes leading up to the hearing, according to the City Clerk's Office. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.

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