News & Insights

Chronic Problem Property Ordinance
July 3, 2013
by Marcellus Lebbin


South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – The City of South Bend enacted the “Chronic Problem Property Ordinance” on June 11, 2013. It is scheduled to take effect October 15, 2013.

The stated goal of the ordinance is to crack down on “nuisance” properties that receive a disproportionate amount of law enforcement attention.

The ordinance creates two classes of properties: those with less than 50 units and those with 50 or more units. The way these two classes of properties are classified and treated is described below.

A Chronic Problem Property is a property which meets the following criteria:

1) A property address which has received five ordinance citations or verified complaints involving nuisance activity in any 60-day period; or

2) A property address which has been issued five letters by the Police Department and/or the Code Enforcement Department and/or the Law Department in a 60- day period which sought compliance by the property owner with section(s) of the South Bend Municipal Code involving nuisance activity, excluding any letters issued under the Property Maintenance Code addressed in Section 6-37 of the South Bend Municipal Code; or

3) A combination of valid complaints and/or ordinance citations issued by the Police Department, the Code Enforcement Department and/or the Law Department which together total not less than five in number issued in a 60-day period.

However, if a property consists of more than 50 dwelling units, it will not be considered as a Chronic Problem Property until it has been issued more than 12 verified complaints/citations/letters in any 90-day period.

The South Bend Police Department will send a “Warning Notice Letter” once a property owner has received three verified complaints/citations/letters, to give notice of the potential of being designated as a Chronic Problem Property.

Once designated as a Chronic Problem Property by the South Bend Police Department, a property with less than 50 units will remain so designated and tracked on a computerized matrix for compliance enforcement purposes for one year from the date of designation. The designation may only be removed by action of the South Bend Police Department after confirming the property has not been subject to a complaint/citation/letter for 365 continuous days and all fines and fees have been paid in full.

If a property consists of more than 50 units, the owner of a designated Chronic Problem Property will be required to enter into a Remediation Agreement which will:

1) Be in writing and signed by the owner and the South Bend Police Department’s officer assigned to oversee said property’s compliance measures;

2) Set forth immediate remedial measures which must be implemented within 14 days and which establishes monthly thresholds and needed corrective actions which will be monitored by the South Bend Police Department;

3) Remediation Agreements shall also include policy reforms, additional staff, additional training and other measures determined necessary to abate the public health, safety and welfare violations identified;

4) Identify specific action plans which the owner is required to complete by the last Friday of each month and transmit to the Police Department’s assigned officer who will evaluate compliance;

5) All Remediation Agreements shall be for a term of not less than six months.

If the owner fails or refuses to enter into a Remediation Agreement, or fails to meet the Agreement’s obligations, the City of South Bend will commence legal action pursuant to Section 1-23 of the South Bend Municipal Code as soon as practicable (penalties up to $2500 per day of non-compliance).

So long as the owner is in compliance with the Remediation Agreement, no additional legal action by the City is to be commenced on the items addressed in the Agreement; however, any new violations may be pursued by the Law Department.

If the owner complies with the Remediation Agreement in its entirety and if the property has no new complaints/citations/letters for a period of 30 consecutive days, 15 days will be subtracted from the time said property has been designated as a Chronic Problem Property – with this process continuing through the duration of the Remediation Agreement.

Violators of the ordinance that have been designated Chronic Problem Properties may be issued citations of $250 per complaint/citation/letter after they reach the threshold for designation. Further, the City may pursue collection of “Repeat Nuisance Service Call Fees” as reimbursement for the expense of responses to the property.