New program helping owners of nuisance properties while uncovering bigger neighborhood issues

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 3:43 PM EST
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City employees began issuing courtesy notices Monday to warn homeowners that their property violates certain codes before a fine is issued.

But as inspectors physically go to a house to issue a notice, they're more likely to find other -- potentially even bigger -- concerns with the property. And that's exactly what happened Tuesday morning.

Alisia Hightower is an inspector with the City of Toledo. Complaints from neighbors brought her to a house on the east side. Those complaints include peeling paint, structural violations, and tall grass.

"I'm going to give them 7 days to take care of this," she said as she signed the notice.

A few minutes after she posted the notice on the front door, a neighbor came out to ask about dogs inside the house.

"I had enough because I heard the dogs crying this winter,” he said to 13abc. “Just crying. I felt bad, I wanted to break down the door. I'll put it that way."

The neighbor didn't want to show his face on camera, but he says he's lived next to the house in question for a couple of years, and that the homeowner only stops by a couple of times a week.

"I don't even see her bring kerosene, nothing. And there's no water, gas or lights in this house. Nothing."

After discovering the dogs inside, city officials on scene made a call to the Humane Society.

Dennis Kennedy, Code Enforcement Commissioner, says he expects things like this to come to light with the courtesy notices program.

"Every property is subjective. It's all different. You never know what you're going to find, and it's unfortunate some of the things that we do,” he said. “We deal with a lot of mental health issues, we deal with people who use these as their storage sheds and live somewhere else."

With 26,000 nuisance notices a year in Toledo, this program gives people the chance to fix their violations before being fined. And research from cities with similar programs shows that 1 in 3 residents heed that warning, which cuts down on city costs to re-inspect.

"The most common phrase from property owners is, 'If you had just told me, I would have taken care of it,'" Kennedy said.

To learn more about the city program,

If you have a nuisance property in your neighborhood, you're asked to call Engage Toledo at 419-936-2020.

13abc has reached out to the Humane Society to let us know if and when those dogs are removed from the house.

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