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Banks get code-team attention

Why doesn't Medford's Code Enforcement Team issue citations to the numerous bank-owned properties in town? If I let my house go into disrepair and neglect, as is the state of the majority of bank-owned properties, I would be issued a citation by the city to clean it.

— Shawn M., Medford

Shawn, your question elicited a surprised exclamation from a member of Medford's Code Enforcement Team.

"If they only knew," the woman said.

In 2011, the Code Enforcement Team, which includes three officers and one records specialist, issued 137 citations to various banks for ill-kempt or mismanaged properties in Medford alone, said Medford police Sgt. Ben Lytle.

"Violations range from weeds to failure to register vacant properties, failure to comply with requirements and accumulation of junk," Lytle said.

Banks are first issued a warning and a time frame in which to "clean up" the problem. If the problem is not taken care of, the bank or responsible party is issued a citation with a fine of about $195 and a second deadline.

This go-around is often drawn out when dealing with large, national banks.

Many banks are located in other states and "have hundreds of these foreclosed properties in their books and no way of knowing what it looks like," Lytle said.

Members of the team often send pictures so bank representatives can see the properties.

"It's a lot easier if we can drive across town and look a property owner in the eye and resolve the situation," Lytle said.

If you have a specific bank-owned "eyesore" in mind, feel free to report it by calling 541-774-2016.