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Run-down properties a dangerous problem in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections has a long list of buildings that are dangerous and need to be demolished. That list currently contains close to 600 properties and L&I lacks the funding to take care of them all.

As a result, buildings around Philadelphia neighborhoods are literally crumbling before residents' eyes. In the last month, more than a half-dozen properties have collapsed, Philadelphia Daily News reported. 

Over the weekend, two residential buildings in North Philadelphia went down, displacing several residents and causing safety hazards.

Residents who live in the dilapidated neighborhoods are concerned for their own homes, as well as their safety. Some say that the rundown properties are threatening the structural integrity of their buildings, which could lead to a chain-reaction of building collapses.

City officials say that one of the biggest problems is that too many property owners are simply walking away from the buildings they own instead of fixing them up and making them safe. The properties then become city-owned, and L&I does not take court action against buildings owned by the city.

For that reason, the chairwoman of City Council's L&I Committee said the solution needs to be holding property owners accountable for their run-down properties instead of simply giving L&I more money to demolish the buildings.

L&I has admitted to the Daily News that it doesn't even have a record of how many building collapses have occurred in the city in recent years. However, the city councilwoman said a new data program should help keep better track.

Ultimately, this is an issue that needs resolving before someone is seriously injured or killed. If that happens as a result of city-owned properties, the city could face liability in personal injury lawsuits, so it should be motivated to act quickly to fix this problem.

Source: Philadelphia Daily News, "2 more buildings collapse in North Philly," William Bender, March 19, 2014

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