What happens to a condemned house in Milwaukee?
A house in is condemned once the City of Milwaukee has determined that it is no longer fit to live in. Unsafe housing code violations are the most common cause of condemnation. You can sell an abandoned house in Milwaukee to We Buy Ugly Houses®.
Until the owner can prove that all of the cited problems have been repaired, and the house passes inspection, no one is allowed to inhabit the property.
In Milwaukee, the condemnation process typically takes six months to a year. The process may be accelerated in dangerous situations, such as after a fire. If the condemned property presents an immediate risk to other people or nearby property, the building could be condemned and demolished within a few days.
Why is a house condemned?
Once cited, a house could be condemned for any of several reasons:
- The building has been vacant and boarded up for a period of time, often more than 60 days.
- Utilities have been discontinued.
- An inspector cites specific hazards that render the building unsafe to live in.
- The building is considered dilapidated, meaning that there are no specific hazards, but the inspector has qualified it for condemnation.
- A house may also be condemned because of a housing hygiene problem.
How to fix a condemned status
In some cases, the cost to repair a condemned house may be prohibitive. If the repair cost exceeds 50% of the value of the property, Wisconsin state law permits the City of Milwaukee to order the owner to raze the property. If the property owner refuses, the city has the option to raze the property at the owner’s expense. The cost of demolition is typically added to the property tax bill.
However, if the owner is able to make the repairs, it’s possible to reverse the condemned status. First, the owner must negotiate a rehabilitation or repair agreement with the City of Milwaukee. Then, after making the repairs and passing a complete inspection, the condemned house may be deemed fit to inhabit.
What are the code requirements for housing?
Code requirements vary from one jurisdiction to the next, but in general, a livable house must provide:
- hot water
- light fixtures
- safe electrical outlets
The owner (and tenants, if the property is rented) also have a responsibility to keep the dwelling clean, pest-free, and in good structural condition.
Even perfectly good houses can be condemned.
The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) has the power to condemn property in order to build public redevelopment projects. By law, RACM may exercise the power of eminent domain, which allows the government to seize private land based on the location of the property, not its condition.
In this case, residential homes can be condemned—and marked for demolition or modification—to make way for public projects such as a highway, park, airport, public facility, or a private project that will serve the public good.
Compensation for condemned houses
In a case of eminent domain, the Redevelopment Authority will usually make every reasonable effort to reach an agreement with the property owner.
Because the owner must be fairly compensated for the loss of the property, the government will make a written offer of payment based on the appraised value of the seized property. This is called a pro-tanto award.
If you’ve been offered a pro-tanto award that you feel is insufficient, you can decline the payment and submit your own appraisal for the property.
In this case, it’s important to seek legal counsel promptly because you may face a deadline to submit your appraisal for the property.
What happens when a house is condemned?
The owner of a condemned house may be ordered to repair or demolish the building. In 2016, the city of Milwaukee had about 400 condemned houses and commercial structures listed for demolition.
Except in cases of eminent domain, condemning a home is usually a last resort taken only when all other efforts have failed to improve the condition of the building.
When a home is condemned, the owner (and tenants, if any) are notified in writing that the building must be vacated.
A sign is attached to the building stating that the dwelling is not fit for human habitation and that it cannot be occupied.
In some areas, a condemned property may be winterized to protect against damage caused by frozen water pipes or improperly maintained utilities.
The government may disconnect the gas, shut off the electric power, and drain plumbing fixtures and water pipes.
If you own a house that has been condemned, it’s important to respond to any complaints promptly, and seek legal advice about the best course of action to take next.
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