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Syracuse council votes to seize more than 20 rental properties behind on taxes, in poor conditions

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Common Council.

The Syracuse Common Council voted to seize more than 20 rental properties that are behind on their taxes, many of which have code violations and are owned by nameless LLCs, or limited liability companies. One councilor said it’s one of the most important phases of cleaning up neighborhoods and eliminating absentee landlords. 

The LLCs owe tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes, but they’re still collecting rent on properties in poor conditions, according to Councilor Latoya Allen.

“These are some of the properties when you talk about blight in the city of Syracuse that look terrible, but the person is getting hundreds of dollars every single month, that’s thousands of dollars a year that they’re getting in their pockets, then the people have to live in these conditions,” Allen said.

She said these are also out-of-state LLCs that are not responding to the city. Once the city seizes the properties, the Syracuse Land Bank becomes the landlord. Then the goal is to try to sell the home to the tenant, if possible, or a responsible neighbor.

“As a neighbor, if I purchase that property, then I can keep an eye on my property," Allen said. "If something is going on with the outside, if the grass isn’t cut, if the sidewalk isn’t shoveled, then I’m literally right there.”

The property owners still have 60 days to pay their back taxes to avoid the seizures.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.