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Judge: Vacant homeowners owe neighbors

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland housing court judge wants owners of vacant, neglected properties to compensate neighbors whose property values and safety are put at risk.

Two out-of-state firms that own empty and run-down Cleveland houses face restitution hearings before Judge Raymond Pianka later this month. The judge has already issued fines totaling more than $900,000 for code violations at the two homes. One was so run down that the city has condemned it and plans to tear it down.

Pianka has declined to comment on the cases, because they're pending. But he has sent letters to people living near the properties informing them that they may have a right to restitution if they can show in court that they suffered economic loss related to blight.

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