Home owners in Atlanta are required to register vacant properties and pay a fee.

The registries are to help local governments better track the owner or financial institution responsible for abandoned homes in the area. Some local governments may require owners to fix shattered windows or keep the grass mowed, if the abandoned property starts to become a neighborhood eyesore.

In Loganville, Ga., an ordinance requires owners to pay a $100 annual fee on a vacant home. In DeKalb county, creditors have to register foreclosed properties with the county and pay a $175 fee. Violators face a $1,000 a day fine for not complying.

Vacant homes are often viewed as breeding grounds for crime and also can lower property values of surrounding homes.

Two metro Atlanta counties and several area municipalities already have the abandoned property registries in place and several other counties and cities in the area are also considering similar legislation.

I think every local government's preference would be that those properties not be vacant, says Amy Henderson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association. Vacant properties affect the quality of life in your community and property values of surrounding properties, so cities obviously want to prevent or mitigate some of that.

Source: “Local Governments in Georgia Starting to Charge Fees for Owners of Abandoned Properties,” Associated Press Newswires (Feb. 8, 2011)