Monday, June 22, 2009
Help Me Howard: Foreclosed and Falling Apart
There is a house in your neighborhood in foreclosure. You may be nodding your head or shaking your head in disgust because many of those houses are in horrible shape, and no one seems to be able or wants to do anything. What can be done? Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser with some answers.
WSVN -- If I didn't cut my hair for 10 years, what little is there would look ratty, but not Marilyn's hair.
Marilyn Goberna: "I like it."
Patrick Fraser: "And it's not a lot of work?"
Marilyn Goberna: "No, it's not, no."
Patrick Fraser: "Not a headache?"
Marilyn Goberna: "Not a headache at all, this is my headache."
This house next to Marilyn's home in beautiful, sunny Miami.
Marilyn Goberna: "This is terrible. I'm sick of this."
Two years ago, the house was nice. Then the owner walked away, and... well, let's let Marilyn give you a tour of what it's turned into.
The house has become a hangout for teenagers wanting to get smashed and smash bottles. They are often joined by ladies of ill repute.
Marilyn Goberna: "You even have prostitution going on in these properties."
Patrick Fraser: "You've caught people having sex?"
Marilyn Goberna: "I've caught people having sex, yes. There's their beds where they have their sex."
Crack heads also use the place. They are stealing the windows to sell, to buy more crack and, unfortunately, when they need more money, they visit the neighborhood.
Marilyn Goberna: "They break into the cars. They steal the radios, whatever they find in the cars, and they take off."
Marilyn has called the police.
Marilyn Goberna: "I'm tired of calling the police to come out here. They don't do much. They told me to call the City."
The City did board up the windows... once. That night, the guests stole the plywood, kicked open the doors and went back to doing what they do.
Marilyn Goberna: "It's horrible, it's horrendous. This is something that I can't deal with anymore. I can't. I really can't."
After the owner disappeared, Marilyn was told the bank was foreclosing, but for over a year no one has done anything about this dangerous eyesore on Southwest 22nd Avenue.
Patrick Fraser: "This is the City of Miami."
Marilyn Goberna: "That's what I thought. I thought I lived in a good neighborhood."
Marilyn wants something done, not just for her but for her neighbors.
Marilyn Goberna: "And I'm scared, I'm worried for the people in my neighborhood. They are all old, and I'm concerned."
But foreclosures take time. Boarding up costs cities money, leaving neighbors like Marilyn to suffer, so what can she do, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "The owner is responsible. After they walk away, the bank is responsible, but not until they foreclose. During that long year or two foreclosure process, it's then up to the city or county to board up the house, mow the grass, keep the rats away; whatever needs to be done."
When I spoke to Miami Code Enforcement, they told me they had cited the property six times. After we called, they cited the place three more times, but the head of Code Enforcement told me it seems clear we may have to try to demolish the house. The city then took their request to the unsafe structures board. Neither the property owner nor the bank showed up to oppose the demolition request.
Cedric Mar: "If all the compliance period is expired, then the City will do what they have to do, which is basically, we will move towards demolition."
Turns out the property owner could not afford the mortgage and walked away. The trustee for the property told me he had tried to sell it, but the bank wanted ridiculous money. When I asked why they would not foreclose and take it over, he said they probably didn't want to pay the liens and city fines.
Marilyn Goberna: "People are dumping, they park their cars and throw their trash here."
Finally, Marilyn will get what she has wanted for over a year: the demolition of a headache.
Marilyn Goberna: "I'm stressed out, trust me. I'm really stressed out and tired of this."
And if you have an abandoned house or one in foreclosure next to you, do what Marilyn did, call the City, the police. Complain, complain, complain because the owners are gone, the banks don't care, and the City and County are the only ones who can eliminate the problem.
Got a house full of headaches that needs to be demolished? Don't abandon hope. Contact us. We will try to get you some foreclosure-- the good kind.