In an effort to crack down on absentee or out-of-town property owners, the San Antonio City Council Thursday approved the creation of the Absentee Property Owner Registration Program.

“Absentee property owners are 30 percent more likely to have a code violation on their property and when they have a code violation, they're 70 percent more likely not to clean that up,” said San Antonio Development Services Director Roderick Sanchez.

The law applies to out-of-town property owners who have received at least two code violations within a year.

They will be forced to provide the city with their contact information and designate a local manager for the property who must live in Bexar County.

Registration in the program comes with an annual $50 charge per property.

“If (property owners) don’t want to comply with the ordinance, basically we're going to go to municipal court and it’s a Class C misdemeanor and we can fine them up to $500,” Sanchez said.

For the last several months, volunteers with organizations like Big Homies Inc. have had to clean up the properties owned by out-of-town owners.

“We started seeing needles on the ground and kids we're running outside barefoot,” said Big Homie Inc. president Kenneth Thomas. “We'd see roaches and rats everywhere we went.”

After cleaning up a piece of their community, the volunteers would have to go back out several weeks later because new trash began to pile up.

“They don’t live here so they’re not going to get these notices,” said Big Homie Inc. Vice-President Micheaux Braddy. “Then after the 30 (or) 60 days -- (or) however long -- the place still looks the same.”

Then law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Braddy says in the meantime, the group will continue to clean the community, but he said it’s nice to finally have the city on their side.

“We're not going to keep cleaning up after (absentee property owners) and not come after you,” he said. “We're going to clean it up and we're going to come after you and let you know.”

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