11 February 2011

So, who "owns" the foreclosed property next door?

Everyone knows that being forced into foreclosure can be devastating to the homeowner. How do you suppose it affects the neighbors? Of course, there's the obvious. Dead lawns, vandalism, any number of things which can affect property values. Last night, the Tooele Transcript Bulletin did a story on another way I hadn't considered.

A couple that lives in The Maples condo project here in Tooele came home to find their basement flooded last July. When it was evident that the source wasn't in their condo, they got into the vacant unit next door, with the help of a locksmith and the Tooele City Police Department. What they found was a leaking toilet that had obviously been running for some time. Here's the problem. The owners have walked away from the problem, saying they were "in foreclosure", and moving out of state. They say B of A owns the property. However, the County Recorder shows no record of a foreclosure, only B of A as the lender on the property. B of A says they have no record of ownership.

No one has been in the unit since that day in July. While I assume the water has been shut off, how to deal with the problem of what has to be a nasty, moldy, potentially hazardous situation? The surrounding unit owners are concerned that after all this time, the mold will be moving to their units. The HOA isn't responsible for what happens between the walls.  Tooele County Health is required to deal with a property owner, and who is that in this case?  Do you file suit against the owners, who think that B of A has owned it this whole time? Doubt they have the financial ability to repair, even if found to be liable. B of A? According to them (and the County Recorder) they don't own the property.

The folks that own the unit that was flooded would like to sell. However, they don't think it would be "ethical" to sell to an unsuspecting buyer. What's the answer? I thought I understood all the problems the foreclosure crisis has caused all of us. Missed this one!

 
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