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HOA headache: Abandoned house on private road

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) - “This house has been the bane of our existence since I moved here six years ago,” says Sylvania homeowner Kathy Casey. The house is on Kuenzler in Sylvania sold for $435,000 in 2005.

“We know that she pays her homeowner’s association fees and her property taxes are up to date,” says Casey.

Despite money invested, the spacious house is ignored and abandoned. The home is inaccessible, with the entry stair collapsed.

“If there were to be a fire, how would fire people access the house?” asks Casey.

Raccoons have pulled out the siding and insulation to make their own home, scattering the walls’ innards across the neighborhood.

“The City of Sylvania says that they’re very limited in what they can do. They suggested we update our homeowner’s documents,” says Casey.

The HOA has been seeking help for years. The owner doesn’t respond to emails. The city sent her a letter in September 2020 warning her to fix the zoning violations or risk a lawsuit. But nothing has changed.

“The health department said that raccoon infestation did not qualify as a nuisance property that would require their attention,” says Casey.

The HOA has altered its membership charter, giving them the right to make the repairs and then bill the homeowner. It will be tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to fix the problem. But after years with no answer that may be a last resort.

“In six years, really nothing has been done other than a lot of finger-pointing and throwing it back to the homeowner’s association to resolve,” says Casey.

The City of Sylvania’s law director says that charges were filed against the homeowner last fall. The owner lives out of state and never picked up the certified mail notifying her of the charges. Now, the city’s hands are tied until the health department declares the property a nuisance. The property has not yet reached that level of deterioration and could take years to get there. The law director says that the HOA could likely get action much quicker.

If an affluent neighborhood can fight blight for six years and get nowhere, what about neighborhoods with no HOA to advocate for them? If you’re dealing with a nuisance in your neighborhood, reach out to kayla.molander@13abc.com to see if 13abc can get some action.

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