Tips for dealing with a mostly abandoned home
It used to be a problem that plagued few neighborhoods outside older urban communities, but now abandoned and all-but-abandoned homes can be found everywhere. If you live near one, you know that an unmowed lawn can be the least of the troubles. So what do you do?
Bankrate.com suggests five rules: Research local laws to see what constitutes a violation. Call your local government if any violations exist. Contact the homeowner directly to see if he, she or it (if a bank) will take care of the problems or at least give neighbors permission to do so. Don't do anything to the property if you don't have permission (that's trespassing). And ask the real estate agent for help if the home is listed.
Rule No. 4 -- no trespassing -- might seem silly to a neighbor who can't see why anyone would mind if he cuts the lawn for free. And certainly people have been doing just that. But Bankrate.com points out that "if you mow the lawn and mistakenly cut a cable, you could be liable." Something to think about, in any case.
Some folks are following the universal rule about squeaky wheels and grease.
At LenderOffender, neighbors post complaints and photos about bank-owned properties in the hopes of shaming lenders into doing something. (I could find only one from Maryland, involving a house in the Eastern Shore community of Greensboro. A neighbor, noting that the former owners keep coming back to dump garbage, says: "The worst thing about this is when I look out of any window in the back of my house all I see is this trashed house that was a very nice house at one point and I can't do anything about it.")
There's SeeClickFix, a forum for people to note neighborhoods problems of all sorts, from trash dumping (attention Greensboro resident) to potholes.
And, of course, there's Baltimore Slumlord Watch, a local blog about vacant properties and their owners. It names names and encourages calls to the City Council.
Do you have one or more problematic vacant homes near you? Have you found some solutions?