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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

New housing law will regulate land contract deals


Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner Monday said a new law taking effect Tuesday will help stop abuses of unscrupulous real estate speculators by requiring people who buy and sell houses under land contract in the city to have the homes inspected.

After a long-running battle between the real estate industry and central-city community development groups, Toledo City Council in November, 2007 voted 7-5 to approve the new rules.

The ordinance was recommended by a housing task force that Mr. Finkbeiner appointed in 2006.

Under the law, major flaws must be repaired before closing and the sales recorded by the Lucas County Recorder.

Mr. Finkbeiner said some of the impetus for the measure stemmed from complaints about the use of land contract sales by the defunct Westhaven Group, once Lucas County s largest residential property owner.

Westhaven Group bought, repaired, and sold blighted houses and at one time owned more than 300 properties in Lucas County. The state Commerce Department shut down Westhaven for securities fraud in December, 2005, when court-appointed receivers took control of the firm and began liquidating its assets.

"Toledo, Ohio can afford no more Westhavens," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The seller would bare the cost of the inspection, the mayor said.

Councilman Joe McNamara, who sponsored the ordinance last year, said the law would protect unsuspecting buyers.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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