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Ohio AG sues negligent landlord for Springfield

The state attorney general’s office has sued a California investor to reimburse the city of Springfield more than $13,000 — and perhaps more — it spent razing houses owed by the investor that fell into disrepair.

“The Ohio attorney general’s office has designated significant resources from the National Mortgage Settlement to combat the blight of abandoned houses across Ohio,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

“However, not all abandoned properties are the result of the housing crisis or banking practices. There are occasionally egregious cases where negligent property owners have contributed to this problem and should be held liable for these demolition costs, instead of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers. This filing represents three such egregious cases.”

The lawsuit filed in Clark County Common Pleas Court is against Johncar Investments of Lawndale, Calif., which owned three properties at 1321-1323 Mound St., 640 W. Euclid Ave., and 21-23 E. Grand Ave.

Johncar Investments was cited for code violations for several years but took no action to address the violations or demolish the properties. After receiving notice that the properties needed to be demolished, the owners took no further action and the responsibility for the demolitions ultimately fell on the city of Springfield, DeWine’s office said.

The lawsuits seek to collect the demolition costs incurred by the city in demolishing the three properties, which totals more than $13,000.

The lawsuit also seeks interest and costs associated with the lawsuit, an amount that has yet to be determined.

According to DeWine, the attorney general’s office has worked with jurisdictions on collecting demolition costs from negligent property owners as a supplement to the Demolition Grant Program created in February 2012. The grant program helps stabilize and improve communities by removing blighted and abandoned homes with funds from the national mortgage settlement reached earlier this year.

While the total of abandoned homes in Ohio is not available, at least 100,000 vacant and abandoned properties in Ohio are in need of immediate demolition, according to DeWine’s office, which said that estimate is conservative.

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