Release Date: May 18,2020

Mayor Horrigan Launches “Mow to Own” Program

Residents will be eligible to acquire vacant lots for free after one season of mowing and maintenance

Akron, Ohio, May 18, 2020 – Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is launching a new program called “Akron Neighborhood: Mow to Own” to enable residents to quickly and easily acquire unused City lots.  Through the program, property owners can obtain vacant parcels near their home for free after simply mowing and maintaining the property for several months. 

All of the properties in the  “Akron Neighborhood: Mow to Own” (“Mow to Own”) program are no longer needed by the City, and Mayor Horrigan is now looking to put these properties to good use, in the hands of residents who will maintain them.  Neighbors will be offered the properties for the purchase price of mowing the property from June through November.

This program is part of a concentrated effort to tackle vacancy and abandonment, as well as to ensure that properties in the City are well-maintained. The program includes approximately 250 vacant parcels selected by the City. The opportunity will first be marketed to neighbors who are adjacent to the lot. A map showing all of the lots eligible for the Akron Neighborhood: Mow to Own program is available at www.akronohio.gov/MowToOwn

Once a resident applies and is accepted into the Mow to Own program, they will be responsible for the maintenance of that vacant lot from the period of June through November 30, 2020. The lawn maintenance includes, but is not limited to, mowing, cutting, weeding, snow shoveling, litter removal, raking leaves, and other similar upkeep of the Property. Inspectors will check on the property throughout the six month period to ensure that it is being appropriately cared for. After that period, as long as the resident has maintained the property throughout the duration of the program, ownership of the lot will be transferred to the resident who will then continue to be responsible for maintenance and upkeep. Additional conditions may be placed on the property when it is transferred (including restrictions on constructing buildings, etc.).

“The vacant lots available are underutilized and often a source of complaints from surrounding neighbors. Offering this 'sweat equity' program helps return these parcels back to the tax rolls while giving residents a unique opportunity to expand their land ownership at very little cost,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan.

“When someone abandons a property and it comes under the control of the City, taxpayers wind up footing the bill for the maintenance on that parcel,” Director of Neighborhood Assistance John Valle added. “On average, it costs the City approximately $385 per lot to maintain each parcel for a year. By transferring nearly 250 properties through the Mow to Own Program, Akron taxpayers will save almost $100,000 annually.”

Successful applicants must be current on their own real estate taxes, have no outstanding property violations, and priority will be given to applicants who own and occupy a home immediately adjacent to the eligible lot. Non-profit organizations may also be eligible to apply for the program under the following conditions: must be a 501(C)3 organization and the property must be in their service area, not delinquent on any real estate, not have properties with maintenance, nuisance and/or building code violations. Additionally, applicants must have any rental properties registered with Akron’s Rental Registration Program

In the rare case where the adjacent property owner or non-profits are not enrolling in the program, a property owner not more than 300 feet from the property may be eligible. They would be held to the same eligibility requirements as the adjacent property owner applicants and non-profit owner applicants.

Property owners adjacent to Mow to Own lots were mailed letters explaining the program, along with applications, which are due by June 15, 2020.  Applicants will be notified by June 30, 2020 of their enrollment in the program, so they can begin mowing the lot.

For more information, please call the Mayor’s Action Center at 3-1-1 or (330) 375-2311.