POSTED: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 4:54pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 9:04am
EL PASO - More than a year after a house on the east side went up in flames, nothing has been done to clean it up. Neighbors say it's not just awful to look at; they're getting unwanted visitors like cats and rats.
"We felt this was the place we wanted to live until I retired," said Sam Sanders, who had lived next door to the property 22 years. But last March, a fire broke out next door leaving the house seriously damaged. Now neighbors say it's bringing the value of their homes down and bringing the vermin in.
"Rats, pretty good sized rats," Sanders said.
"The first thing the real estate person said was, 'Gee, your value has gone down because it looks like a bombed-out war zone,'" said neighbor Frank Macias. He just sold his home but says the property attracts everything but prospective buyers.
"The city's been contacted and contacted but nothing ever happens," Macias said.
So we contacted the city. City representative Emma Acosta's office says they are aware of it. Environmental Services says, legally, it's not that easy a mess to clean up.
"We've requested a title search from our legal department so that we can proceed with condemnation procedures," said Bill Stern with the Code Compliance Division. He says they've tried to contact the homeowner, with no luck. Now they have to contact anyone who has a stake in the property, like the mortgage company, so they can decide to either repair the home, or tear it down.
As far as the rats, we didn't see any when we were there, but Stern says they may have been there a while.
"They also reside in the rock wall around the properties we've had these problems before in that area," he said.
Unlike Macias, Sanders says moving is not an option for him.
"I'm too old to move; either tear it down, do something with it," Sanders said.
We also tried contacting the homeowners, but their voice-mailbox is full. Environmental Services promises if they don't hear something by August, they'll start taking over the property.