5 On Your Side

Complaints About Neighbor's Yard Leads Woman To Five On Your Side

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DURHAM, N.C. — Bertha Edwards runs a day care out of her home, so she had safety concerns about a vacant house next door. She said she and her neighbors tried repeatedly to get it cleaned up, but felt like no one was listening. So, she called Five On Your Side for help.

Edwards is fired up and fed up with the condition of the house and yard next door. The waist-high grass is littered with everything from a rusted chair and old buckets to a pool ladder. Edwards also said she has killed two snakes.

"Would you want your children at my day care next to this? No. This is a mess, and nobody will take me serious."

The home has been empty for three months. Edwards has spent the last two months trying to get someone in Durham to do something about it.

"I've called the people at the tax office. I've talked with the health department, the police department," she said. "I've talked with the housing authority."

"I have called and called. I know some of those people when they pick up the phone they say, 'Uh-oh, it's Mrs. Edwards again.'"

Five On Your Side called Durham's Department of Housing and Community Development. Assistant Director Constance Stancil sent Five On Your Side a copy of a letter the city sent to the homeowner listed in county tax records. The city did not get a response.

Stancil said the city was about to take the next step. But when Five On Your Side called the listed owner, we found out he no longer owns the house.

After more than a dozen calls to attorneys, mortgage companies and banks, Five On Your Side found out the house now belongs to Home Eq., a subsidiary of Wachovia Bank.

Five On Your Side talked with a Wachovia representative in the morning. By 5 o'clock that same day, a crew was cutting the grass.

A Wachovia spokeswoman said the company was not aware of the overgrown yard until Five On Your Side called.

In most cases, if you cannot reach the owner of a nuisance property or cannot get them to respond, you should call your community's code enforcement or inspections department.

If they can't reach the owner, they can hire a contractor to clean up the property and then put a lien on the house for payment.

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