A federal judge has ruled that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are exempt from having to adhere to the Chicago vacant building ordinance.
The city's ordinance calls for, among other provisions, that the owners of empty properties secure the buildings; pay a one-time $500 vacant building registration fee; make sure porches are structurally sound; and keep the area surrounding the properties free of trash. Owners in violation of the law face daily fines of up to $1,000.
The decision was filed by U.S. Circuit Court Judge Thomas Durkin on Friday, in which he noted that the federal agencies have their own similar rules.
"This is not to say that FHFA can let properties where it is the mortgagee become decrepit," Durkin wrote in his opinion. "Fannie and Freddie's own guidelines, not unlike the city's, require it to maintain the properties in a manner to preserve their value. This is consistent with their overall mandate to preserve the assets of Fannie and Freddie -- a field into which the city of Chicago may not encroach."
Fannie and Freddie owned 177 vacant properties in Chicago in late May, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Last week, protesters from Chicago and Detroit took to the Fannie Mae corporate offices in Chicago, demanding that the federal agency change their lending and foreclosure policies and abide by the city's vacant building ordinance. Click through for our coverage of the action.