Ordinance addresses abandoned homes

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By Zach Osowski

In an effort to make the city of La Grange safer and more appealing, the city council adopted a new ordinance regarding abandoned properties.

Any creditor or lender will now be responsible for maintaining the appearance of any abandoned house. If the lender does not want to deal with upkeep they can turn the house over to the city. The new ordinance is designed to create a more complete listing of abandoned properties in La Grange.

This new law can’t be put into effect soon enough for Pat Giles, who lives next to an abandoned house in Washington Manor.

It’s been over a year since the house next to her was vacated and since then no one has done anything about it.

The weeds are now close to six feet tall in some places and the fence marking the boundary between the empty house and Giles’ is slowly deteriorating. The backyard is an unkept jungle and a small gazebo out front is now almost completely blocked by plants and bushes that have grown unchecked.

“I’ve had numerous people come over and say ‘what’s going on with the house next door to you,’” Giles said. “And I don’t really know.”

Giles said the house is an eyesore in an otherwise nice neighborhood and worries it could decrease the value of other houses. She thinks in the current state the house is in, it is completely unappealing to any interested buyers.

“I do wish someone would buy it but I don’t think anyone is even going to look at it,” Giles said.

She said she has been trying for months to get someone to come out to the house and maintain the property but the property management company responsible gave her the run around.

“I called the number posted on the door and the lady told me someone else was now responsible for taking care of the property but wouldn’t tell me who,” Giles said.

She said she got three different stories from the three different people she spoke to. Eventually someone told her it had been sold, but that was two weeks ago. As of Wednesday the house was still abandoned.

City attorney Steve Emery said he hopes the new ordinance will prevent stories like this from happening and will clean up current problems like the one Giles is facing.

“This is will help the city get a better handle on the number of abandoned houses in the city,” Emery said.

Emery said this is something the county government is looking at as well and could be a growing trend nationwide.

“This is becoming a problem on a much larger scale,” he said. “You see such a problem with people unable to meet their debt burdens on their houses.”

The city’s public works department will be tasked with keeping the houses maintained.

Email us about this story at: zach@oldhamera.com