Special Report: Foreclosure Eyesores - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Special Report: Foreclosure Eyesores

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A North Memphis man tired of fighting the weeds and wildlife that have taken over a foreclosed home across the street from his recently turned to the Action News 5 Investigators for help.

"Poison Ivy."

That's just the start of what Bobby Love and Action News 5 uncovered on an overgrown property on Skyline Circle.

"Its the snakes and the rats and some of the other varmints that's coming up out of there. They're digging holes in my property," Love said.
 
The landscaping at Love's home has won awards from Memphis City Beautiful.  But the view from Love's yard is not so beautiful.  Across the street sits a foreclosure - an eyesore Love has been complaining about for more than two years.

Janet Hooks' city department handles the complaints.

"It's mind boggling the number of properties that are out here," she said.
 
In face, there are more than 8,000 foreclosures in Shelby County alone.  The city of Memphis can clean up the properties and collect the cost from the owners,  but an Action News 5 investigation revealed that city crews are overwhelmed.  Currently, city crews are dealing with more than 3,500 complaints on all types of properties.

According to Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, negligent property owners can be fined.  But, in Love's case, the troublesome foreclosure is owned by an out of state bank, making things more complicated.

"In many of these cases, it takes us literally a year or longer to get the case into court," Potter said.
 
The red tape is as tangled as the weeds Love's been complaining about.  Action News 5 started with Community Enhancement.
 
"Someone needs to go maintain the property," Hooks said.
 
One day later, the Bartlett company listing the property was ordered to clean up the overgrowth by July 30th.  But, there was a problem.  The listing agent of the property, Larry Mayall of First National Reality, said he was just listing the house for the bank, HSBC.  Mayall sent the citation to the bank, and said it is their job to call local cleaning crews to straighten up the property.

That company is Safeguard Business Systems, and our investigation revealed that previous city citations were being sent to the wrong department at Safeguard.  Once Action News 5 got involved, a company spokesperson said the property would be taken care of.

"I've done my part being a model citizen," Love said. "I'd like to see the city do its part in upholding the laws."

Banks that own foreclosed homes typically hire a local company to take care of maintenance.  Those companies are supposed to post a sticker on the home with a number you can call to report problems.

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