House from hell - what to do (long)

L Sass

Last year I posted that I thought my neighbor had killed her husband. She did, and the house has been vacant since December. (She was renting it for $3,000 a month) About 2 weeks after she moved out the pipes burst and flooded the house (3 floors). The water ran for 2 days and now the lower 2 floors are torn back to the studs with a lot of mold growth. Quite a nefarious smell as well) The owner then began battling with his insurance co which refused coverage because the house was vacant at the time of the flood.

The local electric co pulled the meter because of the fire hazard, and the owner has not had the electric hooked up again. The home is on water well and septic so no electricity means no water.

The owner has allowed his teenage kids and their friends to have sleepover parties there several times(he sometimes joins them, but that's a whole different issue }(.) Since there is no electricity to run air cond and it's been very hot, many of the windows have been left open. There is now human fecal matter in a number of the toilets and sinks (no water remember), a few dead birds that appear to have flown in through the open windows, food remnants all over. There are no chimney caps so both fire place chimneys are bat infested (which I find least problematic) This is clearly not a good house to be in.

I cut the grass for the owner (over 1 and a half acres in addition to my own) who is generally a very pleasant person (actually I think he's quite a con man and ususally con men have to be pleasant and amiable to be good at the con). I have contacted the local health dept and they cannot help address any of the conditions I've detailed. My local government has no building or housing code to address the issues (and structurally the house is fine). At the time of the flood I told the owner to figure out his finances with any ins coverage and if he wanted to I would make him an offer on the land, demolish the house (this is a home valued at $450,000 when habitable), and merge the property up with mine. He's done nothing. I've asked him to address the sanitation issues existing inside, but he says the clean up crews will do that when the ins co gives the authorization - doubt that will ever happen). He is delinquent in his property taxes, so eventually the county will probably file a tax foreclosure action - but that could take years.

Short of me filing a nuisance complaint against him, can you think of anything else I can do? Sorry so long.


Pain is temporary - quitting lasts forever
Candace Grasso, CC-V-6
Lorrie, sorry you are going through this!!

Why on earth is the Health Department not interested in this? They usually go nuts over fecal matter issues. What reason did they give?


Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow - what a ride!’ — Peter Sage
Hi Sparrow. They don't have the personnel to address this. Since there are no humans coming into direct contact with it (house is vacant) it doesn't pose an immediate threat. If it was coming from a failing septic system and leaching through the ground into surface or drinking waters, it would be a diffrent story. But they said it's not a government issue under the current situation - it's a private matter. That's why I'm wondering if my only recourse is a nuisance lawsuit. Of course that would probably take just as long as any foreclosure actions that may come about. This stinks! (Literally too!) Appreciate good neighbors.


Pain is temporary - quitting lasts forever
Candace Grasso, CC-V-6
Why don't you call the health department and the police next time there is a "sleep over". Ten-to-one there will be something going on there someone needs to be arrested for! Are the health department people idiots? Who do they think made that mess. Someone is coming into contact with fecal matter. That is so gross. I really feel for you and hope you find some resolution to this matter soon. Have you thought about talking to a lawyer. The health department is responsible for dealing with this kind of thing whether they have the man power or not.
I remember the old post about your neighbor. Wow you definitely deserve some kind of award for going through all that! I hope there's a solution to this mess so you can *finally* live in peace.
I don't understand the reaction from your local health dept. If there are unsanitary conditions (especially with no water), the house can be condemned. Next time people are staying there call the health dept.--they should respond immediately & post the house as uninhabitable.

If they don't respond, call your county health dept. They typically have more staff & resources.

I don't think you have grounds for a lawsuit. We've had similar issues with a house in town & haven't gotten anywhere with it. The only other thing I can suggest is stop cutting the grass--that way the town will be forced to do the property maintenance & they'll put a lien on the house. The more often they have to do it, the more liens will be placed against the property, & hopefully that'll be incentive for the owner to do something about it.
Well, this all sounds very horrible to deal with, and I would definitely call the cops at the next "get together," but what I REALLY wanna know is.... what was the deal with the murderous neighbor??? }( What happened and how did they figure it out? Did she stuff his body in the basement or what???


True crime fan,
Isn't there a housing inspector that is in the area that you can complain to?
I know Our Rita is a nasty woman. You call and complain about junk cars and yards and she will warn you and then fine you.
You aren't allowed to have cars that don't have plates and if there is an odor type thing like this they will condem it around here. Uninhabital. They make the owners do something.
Thanks for all of your input. Unfortunately I think the govermental or public department options are not useful. Anne - the person you described would be our local zoning inspector and this is not a zoning issue (how the land is used, there's no junk on the outside and government cannot control junk inside unless it harms the public or children).

LauraMax we do not have a local health dept so I did in fact go to the county level. As far as not cutting the grass and having the township impose a lein, that can't happen at this level of government unless the high grass presents a safety concern for drivers (eg the grass is so high that it impedes a driver's line of sight - not the case here because the road veres another direction.) We don't have a local housing department and as I said, from a structural standpoint the house is fine - not in any danger of collapsing and harming anyone.

The fecal matter on the inside. If someone chooses to deficate on his own floors and not in the "proper receptical" it's not a problem unless and until it presents a harm to someone else. As it stands right now, since the house is vacant, that risk of harm is not there. I like the advice about calling the next time there is a sleepover party there though. Cops may find those conditions serious enough, but I'd speculate that they would only kick everyone out. They have no authority to force someone to clean up the inside of his own house. I know these things because I'm a former prosecutor and I used to represent all of these departments that I've been dealing with. I know the government answers, but it's always worth checking again and making government aware of the situation. (In Ohio townships are a form of government with extremely limited authority.) That's why I think my only option may be a private nuisance lawsuit. (Come on you other lawyers! What do you think?) Connie I like your thoughts though and am looking into it. Thanks for the ideas ladies.

On homocidal lesbian. Don't know if you all recall the details, and the killing was not when she was in this house. She moved in in the beginning of July and mentioned that her DH had died a month earlier - not even a misty eye in sight. She was a 27 year old lesbian who had been in a committed relationship with her girlfriend for a number of years (in fact the girlfriend moved in with her). She and DH got married 3 months before he died of "unknown causes". She collected a LOT of insurance money - oh yah - she's an insurance agent. Don't know what all the evidence from the other house revealed. When I talked to the cops soon after she moved in (they asked me to monitor cars coming and going) they said they were looking into serious insurance fraud allegations, as well as "other suspicious activity". The cops started patrolling the area a lot, and she obviously noticed. When she moved in in July she said she was going to rent this house for a year and then buy it. Everything that came in was huge and brand new. Grand piano, pool table, plasma TV, etc. Very quickly she moved out one day and left all of that stuff behind, which was an open invitation to the cops for additional evidence. She never told the owner she was moving out, but the cops nabbed her in another nearby community, claiming she was moving in with her new wealthy boyfriend. They had enough to get her on the fraud and killing - too bizarre. I just think this house next to me is cursed.


Pain is temporary - quitting lasts forever
Candace Grasso, CC-V-6

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