Strong armed by the banks

Milton Code Enforcement Officer Doug Diehl said the bank which owns this North Front Street property has not taken the previous owner’s name off of the deed — making it difficult to identify the entity responsible for properly caring for the property.

MILTON — Milton’s code enforcement officer is frustrated with banking companies which fail to properly care for properties in the borough which they foreclose on.

Doug Diehl said there are several vacant properties in the borough which are controlled by banks, but are overgrown with weeds and grass or are in disrepair.

He pointed to a property on North Front Street — previously owned by Marcus Engleman — as a one such property which has been overgrown with weeds and grass for several years.

“We cannot find the bank who has the deed entitled,” Diehl said. “They have just discharged the owner of the property, but they have not taken over the property.

“He is not allowed to be on the property,” he continued. “He has no rights to the property.”

As properties fall into disrepair, Diehl said the borough cannot go in and clean them up.

“Our insurances won’t allow us to,” he said.

“It’s very frustrating,” Diehl continued. “I’ve talked to state representatives, several different individuals about it. All the municipalities are being strong armed by the banks.

“They always want your money, but when you want them to clean things up and take ownership of their mishaps, they put it off as long as they can,” he said.

When properties are taken over by a bank, Diehl said they can be passed on to other banks without being documented on a deed — making it even more difficult to identify the entity responsible for it.

“Once it’s sold off, it’s a repetitive cycle,” Diehl said. “I catch up to whoever the last bank (that I thought owned the property) and it turns out to be two or three banks prior to the current owner. You are constantly chasing your tail.”

Diehl said state residents concerned about such properties should express their concerns to state officials.

“Reach out to your representatives,” he said. “When any representative gets with code officials, it’s one of the main topics of discussion. The banks are able to get out of the situation and they know it.”

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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