The House Urban Affairs Committee has approved a bill which would cut the amount of time that ownership of an abandoned property can be turned over from 21 to 10 years. State Representative Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) says situations like this are created when a land lord disappears, dies, or a will does not disclose the property owner. The occupants pay property taxes, but they are not allowed to own the house because they do not have clear title on the property. Eventually, the property is abandoned. Wheatley explains the introduced legislation.
"It would allow the resident who has been there for a consistent basis for 10 years to file for title for that property and it would create processes by which that person can gain clear title of that property."
Wheatley says it has taken legislators nine years to get the bill to this point, and they see this bill as an initial step because even Wheatley admits that 10 years is a long time.
There is still a one year notification period which will be used to vigorously find the recorded owner. If the proper owner does come forward within that year, they will have to reimburse the occupants who had been living there for investments made in the property. If not, the process can move forward and the occupants would become the proper owner.
Wheatley says that although he has had a tough time getting his bill passed in the House, he thinks he will have better luck in the Senate.