Plight of abandoned homes placed in foreclosure

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Neighbors in one Overland Park, Kan., subdivision say an abandoned house is killing their property value. It's an unsightly mess they've had to withstand for three years. They said they want the city to tear it down.

Waist-high grass in the front grows even higher in the back. On the back deck are three abandoned mattresses. Last week a city inspector taped a laundry list of violations to the front door, but that's nothing new. Violations started piling up in 2011.

"I own and manage a huge amount of property in the inner city, and if this is one of my houses, I guarantee you if I left it like this, I guarantee you, not only would I be in housing court by now, I probably would've been in jail," said Larry Myer, president of the homeowners association.

Neighbors said they think the house has fallen through the cracks.

"If you're right next door you can't put your house up for sale because people are going to see that and we can't sit on our back porch," said Haley Epps. "We're having to spray extra because our dogs are being affected by all the weeds and the grass not being sprayed for three years."

The property went into foreclosure a year ago, but when the homeowner filed bankruptcy last November, it put the foreclosure proceedings on hold.

"It does present a problem for code enforcement as far as identifying and holding a party responsible for correcting violations on a property," said Kim Hendershot, city inspector.

Hendershot is the code compliance supervisor for Overland Park. She said her office only has legal authority to deal with outdoor code violations like high weeds, but can't fast track the property into foreclosure so a new owner might rehab the home.

While writing violations for over two and a half years hasn't done much good, Hendershot said it's part of the process.

City officials said it will cut the grass and remove three dead trees by next week. In addition, the house will be put on a 30-day monitoring system to ensure that the city maintains the outside every 30 days. However on the inside mold is reportedly growing, so the home could continue to crumble until the bank is able to sell it.




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