Jim and Lynda Horan had no idea whom to call when what the Horan’s believe to be illegal squatters moved into the foreclosed home next door and started to trash the place. Property records indicate the house was owned by U.S. Bank. So they called U.S. Bank first. Next they tried city code enforcement. And then they tried the police. Yet, the junk piles continued growing. “We went on vacation for two weeks in November and spent the whole time wondering if our house was all right, wondering if they were going to set fire to the place,” said Lynda Horan.
Echoes of Foreclosure Still Standing
Though the mortgage crisis may be over, thousands of foreclosed houses still linger across Los Angeles. And despite city programs such as the foreclosure registry, they’re still frustrating neighbors and dragging down neighborhoods.
Los Angeles’ 4-year-old foreclosure registry requires annual online registration of every foreclosure and for banks to pay a fee, as well as list a local property manager for every house they own in the city. An audit of the registry issued last week by City Controller Ron Galperin recommended a better system for referring blighted foreclosures to building inspectors. But the city’s Division of Building and Safety says it has no money to inspect the properties. City officials have approved six dedicated foreclosure inspectors but haven’t yet found the money to hire them, said spokesman Luke Zamperini. When Building and Safety does respond to a complaint, he said, it treats foreclosures no differently from any other building and tracks down the house’s owner through property records.
The Horan’s Complaints
But that’s what the Horans tried to do – logging nine complaints with Building and Safety over nearly two years. And for much of those two years the house next door was on the foreclosure registry. Yet the number listed for U.S. Bank in Minnesota rings to a fax machine. And the number for a local property manager rings with no answer. Los Angeles County property records say U.S. Bank has owned the house since March 2012. But bank spokeswoman Teri Charest said it gained access to the house only this spring.
But if the city’s building division and U.S. Bank were working to clear the house all that time, the Horans say they never heard about it. Today the house is locked and empty. An eviction notice and the phone number of a property management firm is taped up inside the window. The Horans credit the city attorney’s office with finally forcing a resolution. Regardless, the couple is glad the long ordeal is over, and they’re still keeping a close eye on the place.
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Source: LA Times, Blighted homes linger in L.A., frustrating neighbors, June 10, 2014