• Posted On: March 03, 2015

Abandoned properties are more than an eyesore for a community. It’s not just the dilapidated structure and overgrown yard that concerns neighbors – it’s the illegal activity that abandoned homes attract that can put a neighborhood into a tailspin.

Communities looking to take a bite out of crime have focused on dealing with their abandoned property issues to get a head start on solving their problems. However, it can be a tough issue to deal with in communities plagued by poverty. These are also communities were there are far fewer homeowners than renters, which can also add to the problems. Statistics show that people who own their homes take more pride in them, which can explain why rental properties fall into ruin sometimes, but especially when the landlord isn’t a responsible owner.

In Leesburg, FL, residents became quite familiar with property in disrepair, leading to criminal activity that had neighbors calling police at all hours of the night. It became clear that the city needed to enact stricter code enforcement to help deal with what residents referred to as a “scary” situation. The city became notorious for having the highest per-capita crime rate in the county, the blame for which fell partially on the abandoned structures throughout the neighborhoods.

The situation got so bad that crime waves became the norm, including a 40 percent increase in crime, year after year. Not surprisingly, the areas with the highest rates of crime were in neighborhoods where properties were at their worst. A local newspaper made the connection between crime and code enforcement; looking at a house that had already had considerable work, the paper noted that it still had no fewer than six code enforcement violations that needed to be addressed.

Leesburg continues to address a situation that is not unique to other communities throughout the country. Code enforcement issues abound in communities that can’t afford to hire the proper amount of inspectors to keep tabs on properties that have less than responsible owners behind them. However, it’s not always the number of city employees that’s the problem – in many cases, it’s the type of technology inspectors are using to assist them in their daily duties.

In many situations, it’s the lack of technology that is the issue. When workers go into the field to address the problems that are common with abandoned properties, they’re not utilizing software that can help automate the process. They’re not connected to mobile devices that allow them to pull up histories on properties, open new cases, send reports and schedule follow-ups.

With the right software solution, employees can tackle code enforcement issues while using their mobile devices that are connected to the city’s customer relationship management system. All reports can be sent into the funnel and make their way to right people, immediately. This information can be complete with GIS information, photographs and notes that offer insights for how a property issue should be addressed.

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