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Problems from Abandoned Properties - Absent Property Owners and Landlords

Updated on April 16, 2011

The American Dream

 Everyone strives for the American dream, having a nice house, a good job, and a family.  When you begin house shopping you are faced with an overload of important decisions you need to make such as; the neighbored you will live, the cost of living in your chosen area, the price of the house, and the long term financial responsibility you will be facing.  After all your research is done and you determine that yes you can afford the property you go ahead and purchase your new home. 

Every homeowner knows that sooner or later the home is going to cost you money in repairs and that is expected.  But what you don't expect is for the house next door to you to cost you money in repairs.  I know this story all to well!!

Front of house connected to mine
Front of house connected to mine
Back of house connected to mine
Back of house connected to mine
Floor of upstairs over back porch falling down
Floor of upstairs over back porch falling down
back porch area
back porch area
yard and garage
yard and garage
My beautiful view from my living room and porch
My beautiful view from my living room and porch

Abandoned Properties

An abandoned property located next door to you will be great at first. You have no neighbors to worry about, you can be as loud as you want, and in return nobody is bothering you.  But after years and years of being unoccupied with no one around to keep up the property it becomes a huge headache for anyone living nearby.  I know this headache all to well, as many others in my town know too. 

I moved into my home ten years ago.  The property next door was vacant at the time but in good shape.  A few years later a family moved in for a short time.  They ended up trashing the interior before moving out.  It sat empty for ever since.  The property owner lives a town away but has no desire to take care of the cause of my headaches.  She figured by letting the property go and by not paying the property taxes that someone would come along and take the property off of her hands.  Well that never happened.  I tried in the past to obtain the property at a low cost but the borough and county would not give me a break with the money owed on the property. 

The house began to fall apart every year, little bit by little bit.  First the rain gutters fell of the front, then windows became busted out.  So we picked up the gutters and boarded up the windows to keep the stray animals from making a home inside.  The yard is always overgrown with weeds and sticker bushes that make their way onto our porch and in through our fence.  So each summer we cut the vines of thorns that are invading our space.  There are sumac trees that are growing from the backyard pavement trying to take over the space.  The neighbor on the opposite side thankfully handles that battle.  The garage out back the house is literally ready to collapse, but no one cares other than us and the other neighbors.

The view from my living room window is also a lovely site to see.  Nothing compares to waking up every morning to look at a house with the backside of it missing and the rest ready to collapse.  It is wide open to the elements of nature and all the stray and wild animals that are looking for a place to live.  The house is falling into the neighboring yard  day by day, piece by piece.  The whole town has at least one house on every block that is empty or abandoned.  Who should be held responsible for these dangerous houses?  Well apparently no one, well anyway that is what I have concluded.

Stricter Penalties for Absent Property Owners

I believe there should be stricter penalties for absent property owner, let me clarify this... I think absent property owners should be held responsible especially because there are laws in place that prohibits one from just letting a property go to crap!! Who is most responsible for these properties sitting to the point of dilapidation? Well for my town I can honestly say it is the borough manager's fault. I know from dealing with the house next door to me that he does not have the desire to go after these owners. Depending on the property and who owns it determines what he will likely do. If he is "friends" with that owner nothing happens. You will just receive the reply "I can't locate them", when nine out of ten times everyone and their brother knows where that owner is living. He will say he will fine them but he never does. If you continue to call about the property he informs you that "all you do is complain." Well he should live next to one of these properties and see how he feels about it.

If you try to go higher up the chain to get something done you are informed that it is a borough matter and you should contact them accordingly. So I concluded from that statement that my town is actually a "secret society" and not a borough after all! You can write letter after letter, contact person after person, and in return nothing but more damage to your home. If you decide not to pay your property taxes you are informed your home will be sold. What!!! How can my home be sold if the one next door is delinquent for over 10 years and the one seen from my front window over 20 years!!

All I know is something needs to be done regarding these properties or someone needs to come forward to point us homeowners affected by these headaches in the right direction.  As of right now I have tried everything I could think of to have these properties taken care of and I feel as though it is a battle that can never be won! 

It causes damage to your home when you try your best to maintain it and costs you extra money you don't have.  We actually had to put a roof on the house next door to us.  What person in the world looks forward to fixing their neighbors roof?  The sad part is that we had no choice but to fix it and to make matter worse we were told by the code enforcement officier that we would be reinbursed for the materials we had to purchase.  Well you guessed it, we weren't!  It did however save us from more damage being done to our property.  But it hit hard on the wallet especially with having four children.

Problems to Neighboring Properties

 There are many problems created for properties next to these abandoned houses.  The biggest headache happens when the property begins to crumble.  In our circumstance once the roof began to leak next door it wasn't long before the water found a clear route into our home.  It came in through the upstairs and over time with each rainstorm made it's way further down through the walls until it began dripping through our kitchen ceiling.  Even then no one cared enough to help us out.  We fixed the roof next door to avoid further damage to our home.  But how long do we have until it looks like the house across the street that we can see from our living room?  What will happen then to our home and who will reimburse us for damages?

Even the factor of carrying homeowners insurance isn't easy.  Once the companies get wind of the house next door your rates skyrocket or you are dropped due to the risk.  It is not my fault the owner didn't keep up with the property.  Now while they are sitting back without a worry the headache they helped create falls onto our laps uninvited.  There needs to be something done that changes one's mind before abandoning a property at someone else's expense!


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    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      chspublish - It is very annoying!! All of the residents on my block have been complaining for years. I went so far as to even call the borough manager every day for about 5 months with no luck. We are ignored or told something could be done soon. But as you can see from the photos nothing is ever done. The properties eventually fall down. I just hope the one attached to my home stays up for a few more years because I fear it will bring down my home with it!!

    • chspublish profile image


      7 years ago from Ireland

      That must be so annoying having to cope with an abandoned property like that. It must also be so frustrating as you have made such efforts to get something done. Can nay further lobbying be done with a group of other equally annoyed householders such as yourself?

    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Simone - Abandoned houses are the "norm" in my town. It is a shame because many of these properties are targeted by arson. They are a constant danger for anyone living nearby. It must be nice for owners to just walk away and wash their hands of their responsibilies without caring for the others dealing with the messes they leave behind!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Ooooh! It makes me so furious to see an abandoned house! Sorry you have to deal with one so closely =__=


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