New website calls out Richmond slumlords

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A new web site is raising eyebrows in Richmond. It's called Slumlord Watch and it's calling out people who own rundown and vacant properties in the city.

Hundreds of names on the city's Vacant Property List translate into more than 1,300 vacant and blighted properties in Richmond's neighborhoods. And a few times a week, one man spends time calling them out.

"I was surprised at how quickly it seemed to catch on," said Lane, Richmond Slumlord Watch Creator.

Lane lives and works in Richmond and asked us not to reveal his last name because he says his web site is not about him, but about the people who own these vacant properties. Three months ago he created Richmond Slumlord Watch; a web site that shows pictures of rundown properties and reveals their owners.

"The hope is that I do my part and sort of put a spotlight on these vacant properties and the vacant property owners, then other people will see that and maybe be outraged. Or maybe if they know the person they can say something to them and something will happen," said Lane.

He got the idea from a similar site started in Baltimore Maryland.

As Lane points out on his blog, some of the biggest offenders in the River City are responsible for hundreds of the eyesores.... Including former Henrico County cop and real estate agent Donald Lacey.

"I think he's the second biggest culprit when it comes to delinquent property owners and vacant properties in the city," said Lane.

Oliver Lawrence is also a favorite target of Slumlord Watch.

"It was refreshing to see the court system not just send him to jail but to have a creative sentence. Where they required him to live in one his abandoned houses," Lane said.

For Lane, the goal of his web site is simple...

"Even if it's just one vacant house that is no longer vacant as a result of this blog, I would consider that a win," he said.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.