On December 15, 2008, the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court, Judge Raymond L. Pianka, granted a restraining order to the Cleveland Housing Renewal Project, Inc., a subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress, Inc., halting several sheriffs’ sales of residential properties in Cleveland, Ohio. The nonprofit housing group filed a nuisance complaint and requested a restraining order on Monday, arguing that Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo Bank (collectively, “the Banks”) were selling dilapidated properties for as little as $1,000. The restraining order prevents the Banks from selling the 36 properties listed in the complaint for at least 14 days. The rundown properties and sales have significantly decreased housing values in Cleveland, further depressing the housing market there.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo did not originate the mortgage loans on the foreclosed homes, but were paid as trustees responsible for protecting investors who bought shares of securitized pools of mortgages.
The nonprofit housing group has requested that the Banks be forced to either repair or demolish the 36 properties, 25 of which are Deutsche Bank properties and 11 of which are Wells Fargo properties. This action may be the first of many in Cuyahoga County, where Deutsche Bank owns nearly 1,300 houses and Wells Fargo owns approximately 800.
The Cleveland Housing Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases involving violations of the City’s housing, building, fire, zoning, health, waste collection, sidewalk and agriculture and air pollution codes. The court also hears civil cases involving landlord/tenant disputes.
The mission of Neighborhood Progress, Inc. is to restore and maintain the health and vitality of Cleveland’s neighborhoods through private investment and support for community initiatives. Through its Strategic Investment Initiative, the organization has focused on six Cleveland neighborhoods that have developed plans for stimulating market recovery and improving the quality of life to create neighborhoods of choice.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Nonprofit Group Sues Banks to Stop Foreclosure Sales,” 12/15/08