Neighborhood concerns illustrate abandoned homes issue - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Neighborhood concerns illustrate abandoned homes issue

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Neighborhood concerns over an abandoned home on Madison's southwest side illustrated a growing problem in an era of increasing home foreclosures.

Madison building inspection director George Hank told 27 News five years ago, there was an average of about ten abandoned homes in the city.   Hank said that number has now increased sixfold.

In Madison's Heather Glen development near Verona, a roughly $300,000 home sits empty, with windows open, and mold on the walls visible.   Hank said the home's owner walked away from it about two years ago.   Hank said pipes in the home burst last winter, leading to water run off into the street and interior damage.

Neighbors told 27 News they are concerned about the potential for people to enter or use the home.

"It's a little nerve-wracking sometimes,"   neighbor Carlos Holewinski told 27 News.   "Seeing random people just come up to the house."

There's also concern over the home's condition's impact on impressions of the neighborhood.   The collapse of roofing inside the home is visible through the windows.

Hank told 27 News the home's owner has approximately thirty days to make sure the home is secure against trespassers and animals.   If the owner fails to address the situation, Hank said officials will continue to follow a process to allow the city to make sure the home is made secure.

A neighbor has regularly mowed the home's lawns.   Hank said city officials typically become aware of abandoned properties through complaints over uncut grass.  

Records show the home is in foreclosure. Hank said increasing foreclosure actions appears to have spiked the abandonment of homes. 

Hank said enforcing building requirements can be difficult because of the nature of the foreclosure process.

"We're kind of in this limbo,"   Hank told 27 News.   "The banks have not recorded their interested in a property.   So we have an owner that's been told by the bank not to go on the property.   We have a bank that hasn't claimed ownership yet, so we really can't send the (enforcement) notice to them."

Neither the homeowner in Heather Glen, nor the attorney for the lender, has responded to a request for comment from 27 News.

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