Neighbors fed up with condition of Denver home vacant for 15 years

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DENVER -- Residents in Denver’s Highland neighborhood are asking the FOX31 Problem Solvers for help cleaning up an eyesore on their street.

A home on West 32nd Avenue near Zuni Street has been vacant for more than a decade and is overgrown with weeds. But neighbors said the city isn’t doing enough to fix the problem.

“Nobody comes in. Nobody comes out. It’s always been like that,” Ricardo Cardajao said.

He has lived across the street from the home for the past 12 years and said he has never seen any activity there. However, there is a single light on in the attic that neighbors said never shuts off.

“Maybe a ghost in the house, you never know,” Cardajao said.

The outside of the home is overgrown and unkempt. The gutters are falling down, there is a hole in the roof and a family of raccoons was seen wandering the property Monday night.

“We have raccoons that are living there that keep coming over to our house,” resident Deborah Bryon said.

Now, neighbors say they have had enough of the neglected home.

“A lot of people are frustrated,” Bryon said.

“I think I’d like somebody to clear it up and make it look better,” Cardajao said.

Neighbors said they have filed complaints with the City of Denver over the years, but nothing has changed.

A spokeswoman for Denver's Community Planning and Development said for the past two years, the property has been cited for numerous code violations.

There could be more, but the city’s records don’t show anything before 2015 because that is when the office switched to a new record-keeping system.

In 2015, Denver filed a lien against the vacant home to pay back the city for yard work deemed necessary.

CPD said the lien has been paid off, but the property still has close to $1,000 in unpaid fines from violations cited in 2016. Some of the fines are also being handled by the city’s collections agency.

The city said it has policies for seizing an abandoned property. But the home is vacant, not abandoned. According to CPD, while it is not illegal to own a vacant property, it is illegal to keep it in disrepair.

In the case of a home in disrepair, the city can fine the property owner. If over time outstanding fines amount to a certain percentage of the home’s value, then the city can foreclose on it.

The home has never had outstanding fines large enough to warrant such action.

“It’s really a shame because it’s got some really nice woodwork and it’s a vintage home,” Bryon said.

The property owner said he moved out “more than a decade” ago to take care of ailing family members. He said renters at the time trashed the home and he wasn’t able to fix it.

Over the years, he said he let the condition deteriorate because he did not have time or resources to take care of it.

The owner said he has an appointment with contractors on Tuesday to begin repairs. He also said he plans to move back in at the end of the month.