Ypsilanti Township attorney to Royal Bank of Scotland: 'What is your problem?'
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Over the last two years, Ypsilanti Township attorney Doug Winters has written dozens of letters to banks and lending institutions that have neglected homes in the township that they own through foreclosure.
The letters typically alert banks that the township is proceeding with legal action against them for letting the properties fall to disrepair and creating public safety hazards.
“With all due respect, what is your problem?” he asked.
In a letter to RBS outlining issues at the property and informing it the township is taking legal action, Winters questioned how the bank could let the house “rot” and become a public health and safety threat, a shelter for vagrants and teeter on the verge of collapsing.
He noted that the redemption period expired on June 30, 2011, and the house has clearly received little attention from the bank.
A recently used stick of butter and other food can be seen by looking in the home’s back door, indicating that it is being used despite its blighted and rotting interior.
Among other issues:
- The walls and floors are saturated with cat urine.
- The floors and subflooring are rotting through in several spots.
- The house is infested with mold and sewer discharge was discovered in the basement.
- Separation and cracks in the walls and ceiling indicate structural failure.
- The foundation wall is crumbling.
- The roof has collapsed in several locations.
- Several garages are partially collapsed.
“Again the (t)ownship (and especially myself) would like to know exactly what is your problem with RBS maintaining property that it owns in our community?” Winters asked in his letter.
The township is asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order the house repaired or demolished. In many cases bank officials do not respond to township requests for action.
If the township is forced to demolish the house, it would ask the judge to order compensation from the bank. If the bank still fails to reply, a lien is placed on the property.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
“This situation is both symptomatic and symbolic as to why some members of the United States Congress and the vast majority of people in this country have such negative feelings towards RBS and other similar situated lending institutions," Winters said, adding that Citizen's Bank was the recipient of bailout funds.
Neighbors have reported seeing people use the house on shelter and try to monitor the situation, and Winters highlighted that it is RBS’s legal responsibility to keep the house secured.
“RBS’s failure to do so has had a negative impact upon the adjacent property owners and neighborhood in general that defy description,” Winters said.
The township has mounted an aggressive campaign to address blight in its neighborhoods, which have seen the highest rate of foreclosures in Washtenaw County in recent years.
Increasingly, officials are finding banks or other lending institutions, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are responsible for neglecting homes for which they now own the deed. They are considering new ordinances and working with the U.S. Rep. John Dingell's office to seek relief at a federal level.