A Case Study E 6th St Stockton, Vacant House, Vagrants, Bad Neighbors and Code Violations
Vacant houses are like magnets, they attract every bad element in the neighborhood.
John and his wife had a dream, a vacant lot right next to his mothers house and a building permit in hand. He recounted his story to me about buying the lot and saving to begin construction on the new 2 bedroom 1 bath home that they were going to build. He was proud that he was going to do it himself and when he started he had no idea that his dream was going to become a target for every vagrant in the neighborhood.
He had began the construction a year ago and was stalled almost immediately because is wife was diagnosed with cancer, He had gotten the foundation poured, the walls and roof framed and windows installed when they got the news about his wife. He scraped together his money to secure the house with siding, new and used windows, some doors and the roof with plywood. He then laid new tarps on the roof to secure it the best he could and protect it from the rain.
That is when the trouble began.
- Vacant House
- Bad Neighbors
- Code Violations
John fondly remembered the excitement as he began the project and that quickly turned to anger as he recounted the thousands of dollars that he spent while working on the house for electrical and plumbing over the course of a year. He told me that he remembers finally having saved enough money to start the electrical and plumbing and so he went down and bought all of the supplies. He brought them to the house and installed the main electrical panel on the outside of the house with its riser so he could call PG&E and have temporary power installed.
He finished the work on a Friday and called in for the inspection for that Monday. To his shock he came to the house on Monday morning to meet the inspector and noticed that the main panel and riser were gone. He also noticed that the plywood that had been firmly screwed in to cover the front window was loose and hanging. He panicked and removed the plywood covering the front door. As he entered he noticed that all of the other supplies he purchased were gone as well. In a matter of two days $2,800.00 of materials gone.
If his wife’s illness wasn’t enough, this one act had broken his heart and his spirit. He was done and yet he held on for another 18 months and tried to piece together what he could but no matter what work he did in one week it was almost always undone while he was gone only to discover the damage when he was able to return.
John finally had enough and so he parked an old motor home on the property. He hooked it up to the electrical of the power he finally had installed and the waste-line of the motor home to the sewer line. He was going to protect his house and investment and decided to live on the property.
Not so fast said the City and the Health Department. They issued a Code Violation and Health Code Violation and forced him via the threat of fines and liens to vacate his own property. In addition, unless he could demonstrate that the motor home was operable he had to have it removed. The cards were not in Johns favor and the County was positioned to enforce all violations without exception. They began to levy fines and when he did not pay them they appeared as liens against the house.
Johns world collapsed. He decided to sell the lot and the house that was there in its current As Is condition.
When John first called me I could tell he had given up. He was upset and he didn’t even think it was possible to sell what he had but wanted to give it a try. He said he had seen one of my videos on the Internet and thought he could trust me but he wanted me to come out to see his house.
As I drove up I saw the bones of a house covered with weathered siding from at least two years in the elements without even a primer as a coat of paint. I knew that this was going to be rough. I explained that the condition of the house was not what I expected but that I would probably be interested, but I needed to see the inside.
John was beside himself. He told me that he just wanted to sell and if I could write him a check he walk away right then and there. I explained that it didn’t work that way and he way disappointed. I explained to him the sales process and the role of the Title Company, but he just wanted to cash out and move on right then and there.
It was all so overwhelming and demoralizing. He had been victimized by his own neighbors, vagrants and vandals. Unable to secure the house, keep up with all of the debris, repairs and maintenance and was now saddled with City of Stockton Code Violation that was one step away from a court order to fix the house or bulldoze it. The problem was that he didn’t have the money to do either and the City did NOT care. They wanted the problem gone. The Neighbors were complaining and the property had turned into a problem for everyone concerned.
With the San Joaquin County Code Enforcement and Health Departments demanding a massive cleanup and plan for securing the property we needed to convince the City of Stockton that we were willing to make the required repairs. We immediately called for a meeting to negotiate our options. The first objective was to negotiate a time table in which both departments would be satisfied without levying any new fines and penalties.
Our strategy was aggressive and we committed to having plans for a remodel and addition submitted within one week of the purchase. We also committed to completing the project with in 90 days of building plan approval.
John and I negotiated an all cash purchase that would allow him to walk away without and further liability and to close within one week of our agreement. In order to do that we needed to get the City Code Enforcement and health departments to abate any more fines and fees until we could submit a plan for the cleanup and repairs. In the process the City approved the sale by transferring all code enforcement and health code violations to us as the new owners.
Some Real Estate Problems Are Resolved with the Sale of the House
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