Violations rise with foreclosures

GLENDALE — The number of code violations, such as unkempt landscape, incomplete construction and mounting trash, on foreclosed homes has increased throughout the city since the housing market downturn, officials said.

With the rise of foreclosed homes in Glendale, the city’s Neighborhood Services Department inspectors have been conducting checks on the properties and found that many of them have been neglected and some owners have walked away from their homes, department supervisor John Brownell said.

City staff try to work with property owners of foreclosed homes, Brownell said. But if nothing is being done to the properties, owners have two options: fix it or tear it down, he said.

“They either have to put money into the property to make it presentable or tear it down and clear the lot,” Brownell said.

A home in the 1400 block of Columbia Drive has been an eyesore since it went into foreclosure and a bank took ownership of the property, he said. Permits were issued for renovation of the home’s garage, but the owner let the permits expire and never finished construction, Brownell said.

“The building went under disarray,” he said.

Inspectors have issued the bank a notice to demolish the home and clear the lot, Brownell said.

Another property was demolished in January after the city declared the Adams Hill home unsafe because it wasn’t being taken care of by the bank, who owned it, and the real estate company that was selling it, officials said. The hillside home’s foundation was cracked, it was beginning to collapse and squatters had moved in.

Foreclosed homes and code violations haven’t really been a major issue in Adams Hill, said Chris Welch, Adams Hill Homeowners Assn. president.

About 80% of homes listed for sale in the Adams Hill area are in distress, said Realtor Hattie Ramirez of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Of 12 homes listed in the area, three were bank-owned and had foreclosed, five were under a short sale, which is pre-foreclosure, and one property was facing bankruptcy, said Ramirez, who is an association board member.

Home owners lost their homes because they either bought into the properties three years ago when the market was high or refinanced their homes and took the money out from their properties, but now can’t make up difference, she said.

The association, she said, always encourages residents to report code violations to the city’s Neighborhood Services.

The city is hard on banks who own neglected properties because they have the money and more opportunity to fix them, but give more leeway to home owners because their budgets are tighter, Brownell said.

As the housing market and economy continue to spiral downward, he said, the city will likely see more code violations.

Most violations that have been issued were because the property’s exterior was not properly maintained, he said.

When checking foreclosed homes, inspectors look for overgrown vegetation, piles of trash and peeling paints as telltale signs that the properties were abandoned, Brownell said.

Only a few foreclosed properties have been deserted by the owners, who have essentially stopped making payments on the homes and walked away from them, Brownell said.

Inspectors often give warnings, monitor the properties, conduct checks and look for new foreclosed homes in newspaper listings, he said. They also want to make sure the properties are not abandoned so that squatters don’t move in, he said.


 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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