'Zombie Title Crisis' costs Memphis taxpayers - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Zombie Title Crisis' costs Memphis taxpayers

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(WMC - TV) - A little known foreclosure nightmare is draining money from upstanding taxpayers in Memphis.

When homeowners can no longer afford to pay their mortgage, some institutions that take over are not paying the property taxes. That is when the burden falls on taxpayers.

"It hits every single district," said Memphis Council Chairman Edmund Ford, Jr.

Ford is talking about a new foreclosure horror economists coined the Zombie Title Crisis.

"All of these properties, you can't find the person," he said.

He said the Zombie Title cases have doubled to 1,500 in Memphis over the last two years. That is when banks and realtors leave the foreclosed properties in the homeowners' names so it is hard to track the true owner.

"That's a problem," said Ford explaining how taxpayers are now paying for it. "It's a double-whammy on the city.

It also causes property values to drop. Ford said of the city's 43, 520 problem properties, it costs taxpayers $100 million in lost city and county taxes. As well as an additional $80 million in demolition costs.

"They want great services such as police, fire, parks," said Ford.

The Memphis City Council has a final vote April 2 on an ordinance to create a property owner registry to track who owns what.

Some property owners argue the registry's just more red tape.

"This isn't a North Memphis problem, this is not a South Memphis problem. This is a Memphis problem, and it's up to us to find a solution to that problem," said Ford.

Zombie Titles will be discussed at Councilman Ford's Budget Town Hall Meeting Monday at the Soulsville Town Center located at 915 East McLemore Avenue.

The meeting runs from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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