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Posted on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township attorney to Royal Bank of Scotland: 'What is your problem?'

By Tom Perkins


A collapsing garage at 952 S. Grove Road.

Tom Perkins | For

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.

But the “abject conditions” at a home at 952 S. Grove Street owned by Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary Citizens Bank led him to be more blunt in his letter.

“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.


A deteriorating garage at 952 S. Grove Road.

Tom Perkins | For

“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.


rusty shackelford

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Would have sounded tougher if instead of their "problem," he'd enquired into the nature of their "major malfunction."


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Wait a minute, what's all this talk about good for the community and using government to hold multimillionaires responsible? As any good conservative/libertarian/Republican "thinker" will point out: Community starts with "c" and that rhymes with "c" and that stands for: Communism!! Communism, right here in Huron River City!! Also, as any good conservative/libertarian/Republican "thinker" will point out: Nanny State Government doesn't solve problems, it makes them. The ONLY answer is Unfettered Free Market Capitalism (which also starts with the letter "c"). Uh, wait a minute, isn't that exactly the system which got us to this point in the first place? I guess the only answer is to get behind our Republican Hero Governor $nyder: We can sure he'll gallop to the rescue with a purely Capitalist Republican Entrepreneurial Solution! Oh, wait again, he's currently too busy dispatching GOVERNMENT MANAGERS to run the State of Michigan. Well, I guess we're left with only the militia groups to bail us out (and take charge of our lives). Someone quick: dial 1-800-HUTAREE!


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

How about some federal regulation: give local communities some recourse against deadbeat banks? For instance, if a bank does not respond to demands like this, a judge should be allowed to freeze a portion of their deposits at the Federal Reserve as collateral until they clean up. Right now, it's just real estate they never cared to own, and wouldn't care if they lost it. But if it'c cold cash in their Fed account, it would certainly get their attention. But then, we can't hold banks accountable for their actions, or can we?

Monica R-W

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Keep this going Mr. Winter's and Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees. On issues like this, you'll have my full support. Also, please focus attention on the Washtenaw Coordinator between Golfside and Hewitt Road, as there're many businesses in that area which need a extra eye of attention....i.e.-what's Happy's Pizza doing with a building shell, open plastic blowing in the air and no construction in at least three weeks. That can be a hazard waiting to happen.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Just so y'all know, practice burns are done with structures well away from other, especially occupied, structures. Fires have a tendancy to get out of control.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Bradley Pearsall has the right idea! It doesn't take a brain surgeon to come up with a way to kill 2 birds with one stone. Doug Winters do your thing! Get the fire departments involved. I'm sure they would be glad to clear the blight while getting practice.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

You don't think USA banks are doing the same thing? I'm sure USA banks have junk defaulted property all over the world, that is being left to rot also. Keep in mind RBS was bailed out by the UK taxpayer, I'm sure they can't wait to come over here and clean up a mess their US subsidy screwed them on.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Send RBS a punctured Bagpipe, that will get their attention. "The air is out of the bag, Scotties!"


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Thanks. I just hear a drone come out of that one. Otherwise, I love the bagpipes, only when played right.

Richard Roe

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Here's a thought, why don't these banks clear the owners of their ridiculously upside down mortgages? This would save the families, townships, cities and banks the trouble of having to find someone to take care of the home or pay for the demolition since no one can afford to do any of this.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

What a terrible job schools are doing teaching macro economics. All homes live within both local and national markets. Those MARKETS grab all the variables and establish prices - nobody "pushed up" anything! The 1977 JIMMY CARTER COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT, once decades into our economy and factored into the market CREATED the ARTIFICIAL PART OF THE BUBBLE!! Not only have people failed to THROW OUT the democrats responsible, but elected the worst president in a century who is now spending more than $4 billion PER DAY they we take in! There will never be enough rich people (them!) to "tax" enough to overcome that spending so you go figure out that your hero obama is engineering the collapse of the US economy. Why was obama's budget once again rejected by democrats, yet his own democrat Senate is refusing to submit a budget for the 3rd year in a row? With the obama blueprint, expect future generations of Americans to no longer afford homes and multiple families living in their grand parents home as our standard of living collapses. I have just written more truth about what is really going on in DC then you will read in this democrat loving paper in a month.

Monica R-W

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Shepard145, Greedy buyers? Really? Who pushed up appraisal values on homes from 2002-2007. It wasn't the buyers. One can laid the blame sorely upon banks and mortgage companies playing monopoly money with personal properly values. You have individuals that have purchased homes way before the 'market bubble' of the above noted years, which have lost 20-60% of their home value. Where they a part of the 'greedy buyers' you wrote in your reply? No, instead they trusted the old saying that your home is a INVESTMENT. Little did they know that people in higher places desired to play greedy games with their nest eggs.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

Greedy home buyers are liable for the contracts THEY entered into. You seem to forget that those transactions would have been impossible without government forcing them on banks. Home buyers who sought to take advantage of this socialist style government decree by purchasing homes they could not afford since lost them for many reasons - one of the most common is a lost job in the artificial and dying obama economy. "Clearing" this debt with a big fat present at the expense of taxpayers or bank share holders that would reward this bad behavior while establishing an unacceptable precedent. Even worse, it would accomplish little - a dweller with a free house and no job would still lose it eventually - it would just take longer. Not to mention the IRS would want their share of the bank/taxpayer gift as income. So no freebies.. These foolish home buyers need to suffer for their greed before they eventually settle into what ever home they really can afford - likely a small apartment or mobile home.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

It's a numbers game and while felt locally, the problem is global. These properties have less then zero value to those banks and they are trying to do with the failed home owners did - walk away from them. Make them "someone else's" problem. This is another massive failure after the first wave of socialist democrats dabbled in central planning socialism mixed with phoney "social justice" vote buying schemes with Jimmy Carter's now infamous 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. He confidently declared home ownership a "right" and constructed a wall between banks and the ability of borrowers to pay them back. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd later staked their horrifically destructive careers on this disaster. Fortunately for all those in DC, those responsible are still working and remain largely immune from the spot light as our corrupt and crumbling democrat media continues to protect the government they worship.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

It is most definitely a political issue because Jimmy Carter and all those who followed him CAUSED IT. This is the same federal government under obama who thinks Americans are not competent enough to make decisions for themselves so try to shred the Constitution of the United States and insert themselves as your guardians. Without JIMMY CARTER and others, banks would not have made these loans, the taxpayer would not be on the hook for them and the real estate economy would have remained stable. These are the SAME PEOPLE who now want to run HEALTH CARE - ONE FIFTH OF THE US ECONOMY. Under obama's grand socialist vision, the US Government will become the LARGEST EMPLOYER IN THE WORLD. employer with no money...they have only our money. VOTE 2012 LIKE YOUR GRAND CHILDREN'S FUTURES DEPENDS ON IT!! ...because THEY DO.

Monica R-W

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Shepard145, This is not a Republican and Democrat issue. Instead, its' a COMMUNITY issue. Leave the politics at home on this one and allow Ypsilanti Township to continue cleaning up blighted properties!


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

Oh yes, the myth of the "...unscrupulous lending institutions and mortgage companies.." is a staple democrat lie promoted by their stooges in the corrupt and crumbling press. So when do you think we'll see all those indictments handed down by federal prosecutors? Any day now right ....its been 3 years so they should be about ready to go!! NOT. ...because no laws were broken - they functioned exactly as intended by social engineers like Carter, Frank and Dodd right up until they collapsed!! ...because these wizards share another reality with all other socialists: They are not as smart as they think they are and always FAIL. This "unscrupulous lending" lie was designed by political hacks to distract the easily fooled public from the fact that their government caused all this by writing laws business followed. What "capitalist" bank would loan money so someone who showed no evidence he could pay it back? Capitalism is the solution to socialism, which has NEVER WORKED in the history of the world.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

You ARE right, but it's also unscrupulous lending institutions and mortgage companies taking ADVANTAGE of all the things you mention that drove us toward the disaster that is the housing crisis. Blame has to be on both sides: "socialist" as you call it, AND capitalist. Pox on both of them!


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Doug Winters pursued Bank of America for clean up of an abandoned property in my community. Kudos to him for trying to protect the value of the other neighbors' properties and the community as a whole. I am not sure if it was his dogged pursuit of Bank of America or bad media coverage by WXYZ, but a week or so later there were people inside the property cleaning it up.

Bradley Pearsall

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

This and other abandoned, useless properties should be offered up to our local fire departments for practice burns. That would solve several problems; it would get rid of any mold before clean-up and there would be less materiel to clean up of the let it burn to the ground when they are done practicing. Just an idea.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Great Idea Mr Pearsall!


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

The township atty should also send a letter the the British government. The UK Government became the majority shareholder of RBS in November 2008 and now own 67% of ordinary shares.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Why does the song "London Bridge" come to mind? Tear the thing down and be done with it.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

If you weigh the cost of demolishing this wreck against the cost of litigation and further health and vagrant problems, my guess is that it's cheaper to tear it down. Do it and send the Royal Bank of Scotland a quick note along with a bill. Likely you will have as much response as you have had so far.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

Sometimes, most times, the legal avenues are just inadequate. We all know how this can be resolved.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

My guess is this property is not worth the cost to tear down. Still something must be done to protect the community.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

Not worth the cost to fix either.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Give them time. It will come down. Nice and neat.

Jimmy McNulty

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 10:58 a.m.

Don't waste any more time with correspondence. Demolish the property, send RBS an itemized bill, and place the appropriate lien on the property. It does not say if RBS is current on the property taxes.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

According to the township tax records, the Summer and Winter 2011 taxes were paid on 12/19/2011.