Across the Chicago metropolitan area, code oﬃcials are confronted with the high cost of maintaining vacant properties. Finding out who owns property is hard and keeping records up to date on paper or scattered across multiple departments is harder still. Add on the cost to create and ﬁle legal documents, it’s no wonder that local governments are frustrated at spending money they never seem to recover.
A 2015 pilot project sponsored by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, a coalition of the region’s suburban mayors and the City of Chicago, demonstrated the value of sharing costs to recover expenses associated with vacant property among several jurisdictions. They were able to streamline legal services and elevate actions to recover expenses, resulting in greater efficiency, better allocation of resources, and higher repayment by property owners. Now, armed with a software tool called the Administrative HUB by STR, Chicago area municipalities are taking the next step to combat nuisance vacant properties.
The Administrative HUB by STR is sophisticated software that gathers disparate records on owners and other parties with interest in real estate into a cloud-based database. Using the database, code officials can research owners, create legal notices and liens, and document their expenses – all in a simple and easy to use system. The Administrative HUB by STR streamlines administrative processes and puts information— and the power to act, right at the ﬁngertips of officials working in the field. The Administrative HUB by STR was developed by software company STR, which also makes the industry-leading ePropertyPlus software system for managing vacant property information. STR will serve as the system administrator, another benefit for municipalities seeking to get their staff out of the office and into the field.
“Working in just 4 pilot communities, we found that consolidating the legal services and sending out the notices using the proper legal format got owners to start taking maintenance more seriously. The costs recovered from just three owners paid for the entire summer’s worth of notices and allowed code enforcement staff to step up the volume of inspections overall,” said Allison Clements, MMC Director of Housing Initiatives. Researching the owners and other parties and creating the notices took a lot of time, however, so creating a software tool to simplify the process should result in additional savings. The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus recently hosted two meetings to share the Administrative HUB with representatives of south and west Cook local governments and will be conducting follow-up outreach to other counties in the Chicago region, as well as continuing to solicit feedback from Cook County government officials.
“The feedback was very positive,” says Clements. “We think this going to be very useful and very cost-effective for our members to use, even those that have other software systems in place.”
The Administrative HUB by STR builds off STR’s industry-leading ePropertyPlus system, which is used by land banks, redevelopment authorities, and local governments to manage inventories of vacant property. For more information on the Administrative HUB by STR, please download the 2-page fact sheet or contact us.