December 23, 2019 Feature

Understanding and Dealing with Vacant and Abandoned Properties

By Alan Mallach

Excerpted from Ch. 5 of Vacant and Problem Properties: A Guide to Legal Strategies and Remedies (ABA, 2019)

I. Introduction

There are few areas of the law where legal issues are as thoroughly interwoven with social and economic questions than in the realm of issues affecting vacant properties. Indeed, strictly legal matters, such as those that arise when an estate or title dispute leads to a property being neglected and perhaps abandoned, are rare by comparison with the great majority of problem property issues that become matters of concern for lawyers or anyone else, which are much more likely to be the product of underlying social, and even more, economic conditions. If we assume that the principal reason for pursuing legal proceedings involving vacant properties is usually to bring about the resolution or amelioration of the problems associated with those properties, then it is essential that those engaged in those proceedings understand the underlying issues causing the problem, not merely the symptom represented by the property itself.

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