By Caleb Larkin
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature has passed a bill to assist Salt Lake County homeowners with a unique problem. Property owners within a multi-unit complex have experienced difficulty selling their homes due to restrictions arising out of post-recession regulations.
Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, drafted a bill in 2014 to address the concern, but the bill failed to pass before the session ended. The 2015 legislative session has brought new life to the bill, however, and HB53 is a mere governor’s signature short of becoming law.
The law would allow Salt Lake County to offer temporary financing to multi-unit homeowners who need to reclassify their property for sale.
“What this bill will do is allow the city and the county to provide some funding, that will have to be paid back by the residents, so they can have the properties evaluated and surveyed,” said Anderson.
Multi-unit housing in the 1970s effectively created homeowner’s associations that have had unintended consequences today. These homeowners are unable to sell their property with the existing restrictions and are required to undergoing a series of assessments to remove the restrictions on their property and return it to a fee-simple ownership.
For example, many of these individually-owned homes lack dividing property lines. “That has presented problems for those folks as they have tried to sell their homes or refinance their homes after the banking crisis,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s bill would allow residents seeking to refinance their home to qualify for county or city funding, which could be used to evaluate and survey their home to determine property lines. However, “the money will have to be paid back [to the fund] by the residents,” said Anderson.
Anderson hopes the bill will allow residents in his hometown of Taylorsville to better refinance or sell their homes. “[The funding] will help identify which part of the yard belongs to which tenant and have that title work done so they don’t have problems refinancing or selling the home in the future.”
Salt Lake County constituents brought the bill to Anderson’s attention three years ago, and the bill will only affect Salt Lake County. Anderson gave the Heather Glen neighborhood as a specific example of where the mortgage loan changes, implemented in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, affected residents.
Without the ability to sell and refinance homes, a community can become stagnant, said Anderson. By establishing this fund, property owners and property seekers will no longer feel stuck.
“We didn’t want to get residents’ hopes up just to have it get pushed off again. Right now it’s moving like a hot knife through butter,” said Anderson. He fully expects that the governor will sign the bill.