Home foreclosures that turn into neighborhood eyesores when unpaid utilities lead to broken water pipes are happening more often. Channel 6 News first reported about one such house in Bellevue. The problem has spread to Omaha.
Huge icicles don't make for a warm neighborhood welcome at 128th and Westwood Lane. "That's how we knew something was up.” That's why Susan Brandquist is concerned about the condition of an abandoned house across the street.
“I don't want a house sitting empty ‘cause it tends to leave it open for vandals to go in."
A city inspector called by Six On Your Side found records that show the mortgage in default, but whose fault is damage caused by broken pipes?
"We'll send notice to the bank and give them a short time for them to correct this,” says Omaha Chief Inspector Kevin Denker, who has photos from another abandoned house in northeast Omaha with the heat turned off, but not the water.
“When it warms up and this ice melts it's going to lead to more water damage on the inside, mold, mildew and then other issues."
Back on Westwood Lane, the garage door was unlocked so the inspector was able to go inside to document damage that violates code. There was damage in the basement, the drywall soaked.
There’s ice formed around the shut-off electrical box. MUD says the homeowner had the water turned off in January, but someone turned it back on, until neighbors complained of a flood pouring out of the windows.
“Hopefully they'll be able to get somebody in there to clean up and somebody nice will buy it, keep our neighborhood up," says Brandquist.
The mortgage company will be notified to start cleanup soon because health problems aren't frozen in time. Mold will grow fast after the spring thaw.
Our Six On Your Side investigation has turned up five vacant houses with broken pipes in Omaha and Bellevue.
If you notice one in your neighborhood, call your local inspector. The numbers are 444-5371 in Omaha and 293-3014 in Bellevue. The inspector can get an emergency shut-off order.