Explaining dilapidated houses list

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2008

Q and A with Clarence Brooker


DEMOPOLIS &8212; The city council here has long been wrestling with a dilapidated houses list &8212; a series of properties that are in various stages of disrepair around Demopolis.

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Building official Clarence Brooker Jr. is the man in charge of that list. Brooker, who has been the city&8217;s building official for 19 years, also serves on the city&8217;s planning commission.

There are 15 properties on the current list. That list will be published Wednesday.

Q: How does a property get listed on the dilapidated houses list?

A: By someone complaining or by seeing the property and thereby investigating it. Some examples that could make a property be listed as dilapidated are the physical condition of the floors and roof, if either one is falling in. People are not usually living in them.

Q: Is there recourse for the property owners?

A: If I make the determination that the house is dilapidated, the owner has the right to appeal that decision. They and I can often agree on a way to get that property off the list. It&8217;s possible to bring those properties back to standard.

Q: Is it difficult to get a property off of the dilapidated property list?

A: Not really. Not if you do what you&8217;re supposed to, but it gets difficult because we have so many absentee property owners.

Q: So what&8217;s the worst that can happen if a property owner ignores being on this list?

A: If no progress is made within a certain time period, say 90 days, after being notified, it is turned over to the city attorney, Rick Manley, who will send them a letter as a followup. Then, within a given time frame, the city can, will and has torn dilapidated buildings or houses down. Then, if the property owner doesn&8217;t pay for the demolition and clean-up of the property, the cost may be added to their city ad velorem (property) taxes.