Arizona’s rural cities and towns have witnessed the decline of their Main Street and historic downtown areas at the hands of absentee landlords and property speculators. This situation worsened during the recession when jobs in these regions disappeared. Businesses closed, leading to properties becoming vacant or sold at foreclosure or tax lien sales for pennies on the dollar. Some of these properties were purchased without a plan for occupancy or development, only to sit vacant for years. In extreme cases the properties were allowed to deteriorate, collapse or eventually burn. The vacancy, decay and destruction of these buildings has a tremendous impact on the historic character and attraction of these cities and towns and a chilling effect on revitalization and economic development.
Neighboring owners’ property rights are weakened when absentee landlords fail to appropriately maintain or do not place their property into productive use. As a result, land values of adjacent properties are diminished, and economic development slows because there is little to no desire for new investment in businesses or construction due to the perception that no one cares about the community. Historic buildings often share common walls, and when an adjacent building contains hazardous conditions such as a leaking or exposed roof, faulty electrical wiring, broken pipes or structural damage, it adversely impacts the safety and value of the adjacent properties and exposes its occupants to potentially dangerous conditions through no fault of their own.
Vacant and abandoned buildings also cost communities more in taxpayer dollars for fire suppression and public safety. When absentee landlords do not properly maintain buildings and allow them to fall into disrepair, they become targets for criminal activity like squatting, vandalism and arson. Cities and towns have worked to abate chronically blighted properties to the best of their ability using very limited resources. However, new tools are needed to encourage absentee landlords to better care for their properties and relieve taxpayers and adjacent property owners of this burden.
"...that the Mayor and Council approve Resolution No. 20-1399."