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WASTE WATCH: Abandoned, Trashed Homes You're Paying For
COLUMBUS (Brooks Jarosz) -- The City of Columbus is blighted by thousands of homes left vacant, abandoned or trashed and many times taxpayers are responsible for cleaning up the mess.
When owners go awol, tracking them down can be a daunting task.
Anthony Mossburg and his family live along Mound Street in West Columbus. He looks at three rundown and vacant homes across the street. Theyre just a few hundred feet from a school zone.
"So everybody that passes by sees all of that and then here we are, Anthony Mossburg said. We live right across the street from it."
Dana Rose, the Columbus code enforcement administrator wasnt surprised. He says theyre just a few of more than 6,000 abandoned or vacant properties in the city.
"All neighborhoods should have properties that don't violate code," Dana Rose said. "You need to take responsibility for your property whether it's an owner or a bank.
The city paid to have the properties grass cut and trash removed. In fact, you help pay for $700,000 worth of yard work on these abandoned properties.
The cleanup cost is typically added to the home owners property taxes. However, many owners are behind on taxes.
"If we can locate a person we'll take them to court and try to force them to pay us the money back or take care of these properties," Rose said.
As ABC 6 Investigators dug deeper, we cross referenced the owners name for one of the properties and stumbled upon the company Realistic Investors LLC. We later found a handful of properties the company owned.
Accountability becomes a tangled web. Owners have one week to fix code violations or else the city could take other actions.
According to the Secretary of States office Realistic Investors LLC dissolved in 2011. Since then the properties have sat, unattended.
ABC 6 Investigators tried to track down the companys members. After visiting their last known address with no luck, we tried phone number after phone number. Then a tip took us on a road trip traveling 60 miles to Xenia, Ohio. A relative of the couple we were looking for answered the door. While a van registered to the couples name was in the driveway, the woman said they were not home. So, we questioned her about the properties and the family business.
"To my knowledge the banks were supposed to take possession of those and they failed to do so," the woman said.
We checked and the properties are still in limbo. The county auditor confirmed to ABC 6, Realistic Investors owns these places. Still, were the ones paying.
"There's a lot of needy families that could use houses and stuff you know, Mossburg said. I mean even if they'd just fix them up enough and sell them you know, give somebody else a chance to be able to benefit and whatever from it."
As tax liens grow, the city works to take action, taking over the property or ultimately tearing these places down. Its another set of challenges.
"The problem is we have inventory now and we have to take care of them," Rose said.
Now its left up to you to foot the bill for someone elses trashy taste and irresponsibility.