Can I sell a "public nuisance" property in Toledo?

6 Replies

I am hoping to find an answer from someone who has experience with a property in this situation.  The home is located in Toledo, is owned free and clear, is vacant, and owner lives out of state. The home is/was being renovated slowly, but recently was cited with violations from the city of Toledo (roof repair, door replacement, paint peeling, windows need replacement, etc). It was declared a public nuisance, and the owner now has a court date in August.  Instead of dumping more money into the home, it seems like a more economical solution would be to sell or demolish the home.  

My question is: is it possible to sell the property and have the buyer assume the responsibility for making the repairs? Can this be written into the contract of sale legally? Do any of the We Buy Ugly Homes companies do things like this? Can someone recommend a solution that doesn't involve putting more money into the home to fix the violations? 

The Toledo Housing Court has this listed in their FAQ section, so it alludes to the idea that you CAN sell the property as long as the repairs are still made, or else you will still be liable for the violations:

Does it solve my case by selling the property cited?
No. By selling your property, you will not be released from these charges. If you choose to sell the subject property, make certain the purchaser has the financial ability to immediately correct all of the code violations. Work to correct these code violations must be completed within thirty (30) days of the real estate closing. If these conditions are met, your case may be closed with the Judge’s discretion. If the aforementioned conditions are not met, you may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. Toledo Municipal Code 1726.00 (e) states, "Any person who transfers his or her property to another after the property has been declared a public nuisance without first abating the nuisance is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree and shall be liable for any and all costs incurred by the City in abating the nuisance." Charges against the new owner may also be filed for failing or neglecting to obey or abide with an order to abate a public nuisance.

Sounds risky to trust a buyer to make the repairs, even if its in the contract. What if they don't do it, you'd have to sue to enforce the contract, and in the mean time you get the misdemeanor.

I wonder if you can "donate" it to the Lucas county land bank instead of paying for a demolition.  You could call them and ask.


Clearing enforcement liens is not easy and demolition is not cheap and may not be allowed. Also, the property will not be eligible for insurance so any buyer would be "home alone" on liability resulting from the process. And, you can forget about title insurance because of the liens and lawsuit.

This isn't an easy/quick/inexpensive fix. Once a property gets to this point, it's a whole lot of bad moving forward.  

@Michael P.

That's what I was thinking. There's no reason for them to complete the repairs in the time frame. I'll give the land bank a call tomorrow. I'll have to see if that would absolve the violations as well.

Thanks for the suggestion.

@Nadia G. I agree with the donation route. Over the years I have noticed Toledo has created some onerous laws for rental property investors and our Housing Court seems to start off with the notion that you are wrong and must prove why you aren't instead of the other way around.

I will be interested in hearing back what the Land Bank says to you. I have never heard of anyone calling them up and offering to donate a property. Typically they seem to just get them when owners disappear and let the property fall into ruin.

Here's the response from the land bank:

The Land Bank is a non-profit not a government entity so we cannot demolish or truly do anything to a property without ownership. If you are interested in donating a property to the Land Bank there must be free and clear title to do so. If you believe there is clear title and you are interested in us considering the property for donation please fill out a Request for Property Investigation. Here is a direct link to this form.
Once we review the form we will be back in touch regarding an inspection of the property. This inspection will guide our decision making. It sounds like you believe that is a demolition. If we find the same we will require a monetary donation to complete that work as we have no funding to do that work. If you have any additional questions please let me know. Otherwise, we will review your form once it is submitted.

I guess the next step is to see if these violations would affect the title.