New Castle County announces crackdown on Claymont landlord

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New Castle County officials called out a Claymont landlord and announced a crackdown on code violations tied to his properties.

Speaking at a press conference, County Executive Matthew Meyer, announced new actionagainst the local landlord whose 34 properties have racked up nearly two thousandcounty code enforcementinspectionsand hundreds of public safety calls, while piling up $415,000 in unpaid taxes and fees.

The landlord was identified as George Fantini of Hockessin. Fantini told DelawareOnline.comhe planned to pay his taxes after showing up in the vicinity of the press conference. WDEL reported that Fantini was heckled by one person and escorted back to is car by police.

The issue of the county not cracking down on the condition of rental and homeowner properties has contributed to the decline of housing stock in many areas of the county.

Claymont is in the midst of a revitalization effort that aims turn around the area best known for a now-razed steel mill. The effort includes new housing as well as rehabbing existing properties that have attracted crime and other problems.

Click here for a list of Fantini’s properties.

Other areas have strugged with properties that went back to lenders after owners defaulted on mortgages. Tracing ownership proved to be difficult. since some of the properties were owned by financial institutions from outside the area. Delaware also has a foreclosure rate that is above the national average.

Meyer, members of County Council, staff from the county’s Code Enforcement Office and Public Safety Departments and community advocates visited one of the properties, a residencein the Overlook Colony neighborhood near Claymont in making the announcement“We are concerned for the law-abiding tenants and local residents who are harmed by the appalling condition of these properties,”Meyer said. “This landlord’s failure to maintain his properties and to meet his financial obligations hurts the entire community anddrains resources from our code enforcement and public safety officers. If you are not taking care of your property in New Castle County, you are not getting away with it anymore.”

Listed by the county were:

  • 1,992 property inspections by county code enforcement officers
  • 418 code enforcement violations
  • $22,000 in abatement costs initially paid by county government to correct code violations on these properties

Public safety stats included:

  • 220 calls for police dispatch
  • 72 calls for emergency medical services

According to a release, the County Finance Department has initiated contact multiple times with the owner, Hockessin-area resident Fantini,to arrange payment of county and school property tax, sewer fees and code violation fees.

On some of the owner’s most severely delinquent accounts, no payment has been made since 2012. Despite pledgesto make payment on those severely delinquent accounts, no payment has been received. In June and again in July, the County’s Law Department communicated in writing in a final effort to secure payment and a plan to remedy all outstanding code violations on these properties, the release stated.

“Fair enforcement of this new policy will assist New Castle County and Claymont by addressing some of our problem residential and commercial properties,”said Brett Saddler, executive director of the Claymont Renaissance Development Corp. “Many of these properties have been detrimental to our revitalization.”

Meyer signedanExecutive Orderestablishing apolicy that gives county officials the discretion to initiate sheriff sale proceedings against owners of multiple properties who disregard their obligations to maintain thoseproperties for the occupants and pay property taxes, fees and finesthat are owed to the county and school districts.

In response to the violations tied to Fantini, the county isinitiatinglegal action to take hisproperties to sheriff sale, a release disclosed.

Tenants can learn about theirrights under the Delaware Landlord-Tenant Code by visiting theDelaware Attorney General’sConsumer Protection Unitwebsite at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/fraud/, by calling302-577-8600 or e-mailingConsumer.Protection@State.DE.US.

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