City previously required new building owners to pay off building debts from previous owners
For a city with a reputation for being anti-business, Detroit is making a move that economic developers are applauding.
The city is stopping its practice of holding the new owner who purchases property responsible for paying off old fees before taking ownership, according to Durene L. Brown, city ombudsman for Detroit.
The announcement came in a Sept. 26 email from David Bell, interim director for the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department in Detroit. In the email, Bell said the city was developing a new policy and while that's happening fees left unpaid by any previous owners, "are not to negatively impact the new owner of a property ..."
It is unclear how long the policy will be in place.
Bell didn't respond to an email or phone message seeking comment. Mayor Dave Bing's media spokespeople Robert Warfield and Linda Vinyard also didn't respond to phone messages or emails left for comment.
John Avery, executive director of the Michigan Economic Developers Association, said if the city is waiving past fees for new owners it would be beneficial for potential development.
He said that although the sales price of property in Detroit can be low, back taxes and back fees could be double or triple the cost of the property.
"Any steps in that direction would be helpful," Avery said.