The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 2, 2013

City gives houses a chance at rehab

OTTUMWA — If the city puts a placarded house up for sale, it has a chance of being rehabilitated and put back on the tax roll.

After several discussions between the City Council and the health and inspections department to revise the city's nuisance ordinance, Councilman Bob Meyers asked why some placarded houses sell for minimal amounts and others are simply demolished.

One house on Vernon Street sold for just $1,000 at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

"At what point does the city look at ... [does] this building need to be torn down?" Meyers asked. "If we're going to sell it for that, is there some estimated amount of money they'll put into it?"

Health, Inspections and Solid Waste Director Jody Gates said the department doesn't require that the buyer put a certain amount of money into the property.

"They just have to meet the housing code and take care of the deficiency list," she said. "And in some cases, that's a substantial amount of money, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars and in some cases less."

A placarded house will be demolished only if it's burned so badly that the cost to bring it up to code would be more than 100 percent of the value of the house, she said.

"In most other cases, if someone is willing to invest the money and do the work, the house can be rehabilitated," she said.

But once in awhile, the city receives no bids on a placarded house, so the city decides to tear it down.

"A few that we've brought to you ... were just so dilapidated and in poor locations, maybe on a hillside or something where nobody wanted to take on the task of attempting to rehab them," she said.

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