New Castle, DE – New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer today announced the first successful outcome under a recent executive order regarding problem property owners. That order provides the Chief Financial Officer with authority to take legal action, including initiating sheriff sale proceedings, against owners of residential and commercial properties who fail to maintain those properties and who disregard their obligation to pay taxes, fees and fines owed to the County and school districts.
“Every New Castle County resident deserves to be safe and secure in their home,” County Executive Meyer said. “Today’s outcome is an important win for the community. We have required an area landlord to make critical property repairs and hire a property manager to improve living conditions and positively impact quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. We also collected nearly half a million dollars in delinquent taxes and fees to fund our local schools, police, paramedics, parks and libraries.”
On July 31, Meyer announced that the County would initiate sheriff sale proceedings against a local landlord, George Fantini, whose 34 properties have racked up nearly two thousand county code enforcement inspections and hundreds of public safety calls, while accruing $415,000 in unpaid taxes and fees. 13 of these properties had been scheduled for sheriff sale in November.
In response to the County’s action, Fantini made a $438,000 payment to satisfy County and school property taxes, sewer service charges, Code Enforcement fees, and legal costs and fees. In addition, Fantini has signed a binding legal agreement with the County which requires him to take several steps to ensure the safety of his tenants, including:
- Provide county inspectors with access to the interior of his rental properties.
- Hire a licensed contractor to correct all code violations and make all necessary repairs that are identified by county inspectors, including:
- Ensuring that residents have access to working electricity, plumbing, heat and hot water;
- Installing smoke detectors;
- Remediating exposed electrical wiring; and
- Exterminating roach and pest infestations
- Retain a licensed property manager to properly manage and maintain his rental properties.
The legal agreement establishes a specific timeline to correct all code violations and make any necessary repairs, and all items identified by inspectors that create an unfit or unsafe living environment must be corrected within 30 days.
“I'm very pleased today to announce this legal settlement regarding the Fantini rental properties, many of which are in the District I represent,” said New Castle County District 8 Councilman John Cartier (Eastern Brandywine Hundred). “For the first time in my 14 years on Council, New Castle County has acted decisively to deal with this longstanding problem rental property owner. The far-reaching and precedent-setting legal settlement addresses both the code violations and also the owner’s irresponsible management that has created unsafe and substandard living conditions for the tenants. I’m pleased that all outstanding county and school property taxes and code enforcement fines, which exceeds $400,000, have been paid on all Fantini-owned commercial, personal, and rental properties. My personal thanks to County Executive Meyer and his team for holding this problem rental property owner accountable and putting other property owners on notice.”
“This comprehensive agreement makes it clear that the Meyer administration is dead serious regarding landlords and others degrading the communities where they own property,” said Brett Saddler, Executive Director of the Claymont Renaissance Development Corp. “We hope this is just the beginning of these type actions not only in Claymont but throughout the County.”
Meyer emphasized that County Police will continue to actively patrol the neighborhoods in which these properties lie and that Code Enforcement Officers will closely monitor work at these properties to ensure the safety of tenants and neighbors. He noted that the failure of any property owner to maintain his or her property hurts the community and drains resources from the County’s public safety and code enforcement officers.
Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462