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South Florida vacant properties: Adding premises liability concerns to abandoned property blight

As foreclosure rates across South Florida continue to climb, the Miami Herald reports that for the second quarter, foreclosed property made up more than one-in-three home sales. Miami-Dade County reported 4,439 foreclosure sales and Broward County reached almost 5,000 between April and June.

And now as fallout from the recent Ally Financial flawed foreclosure document revelation resonates, Old Republic National Title Insurance, which has eight offices in Florida and carries more than 10 percent of the title insurance market share, has stopped writing policies on foreclosed homes, the Palm Beach Post reports. This move sets the stage for a screeching halt to the transfer of distressed property sales in South Florida, a region already overwhelmed with abandoned and distressed real estate.

West Palm Beach premises liability lawyers know that the growing incidence of abandoned property falling into disrepair from Margate to Port St. Lucie does more than further depress already rock-bottom home values. Especially in locations across Broward and Miami-Dade counties where the number of vacant homes now hovers near 19 percent.

More so than eyesore, many of these properties are becoming hazards. Unkempt yards with hip-high grass can block the view of drivers and pedestrians alike, not to mention lure squatters. Abandoned swimming pools – now more pond-like ecosystem than refreshing backyard retreats – pose a safety hazard for kids who think nothing of taking a quick dip. Cracked driveways, broken windows, overgrown tree limbs, roof damage – all these things create potential security issues and safety hazards.

And if a property is in foreclosure or some twilight-zone stage in the process, who is responsible? The bank? The former mortgage holder? In an effort to address growing violation issues with abandoned property, the City of West Palm Beach has implemented a Distressed Vacant Property Registry. The hope is the City will then be able to keep track of responsible parties and manage a database of vacant real estate, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys at Freeman & Mallard know that a serious or fatal injury involving premises liability requires an experienced law firm. Property owners have an obligation to tenants and visitors to ensure a safe experience and environment. If you have been injured or someone you know has been injured or killed due to the negligence of a property owner, contact our offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Pierce /Port St. Lucie to schedule a no-obligation appointment to discuss your case at 1-800-529-2368.

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