Goodspeed: How to handle neglected neighboring condo

LINDA GOODSPEED
CORRESPONDENT
The lender that now holds title to the unit next to yours is responsible for maintaining and securing the property, and for any damage caused to others.

QUESTION:The condo next to mine is empty. It was foreclosed upon about a year ago and no one has lived there for several months. The unit is now owned by the lender. My concern is that the property is not being maintained and is becoming an easy target for someone to break into or vandalize. I am also worried about pipes freezing and water damage or some other catastrophe that could impact me and my unit. Is there anything I can do about this situation?

ANSWER: Your situation and complaint has become a fairly common one – i.e., a foreclosing lender that does not adequately maintain and upkeep a property. Hopefully, with the recent boom in home sales and activity, and declining numbers of foreclosures, this problem will diminish. In the meantime, what can you do about it?

The lender that now holds title to the unit next to yours is responsible for maintaining and securing the property, and for any damage caused to others. I would put the lender in question on written notice, via certified mail, return receipt requested, about the situation and the lender’s responsibilities to properly maintain and secure the unit. Address the letter to the president of the bank and send it to the corporate headquarters.

If you do not know the foreclosing lender, you can find this information out at the registry of deeds in the county where the condo is located. You should be able to find the name of the president and address of the lender online.

Also enlist your condo association in your efforts to notify the lender about properly maintaining and securing the empty unit. If there is a dangerous situation, a broken window, for example, or leaky faucet, etc., the association may be able to legally compel the lender to fix the problem. You could also contact the city’s board of health and code enforcement departments if you think there are any dangerous or unsafe situations in the empty condo.

It is possible that the lender has not actually completed the foreclosure. In that case, the unit is still owned by the person who walked away from it, and the lender is limited in what it can do. Even if that is the case, I would still put the lender on notice, and ask your condo association to take steps to expedite the foreclosure process.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.