Should I Worry That My Townhouse Neighbor Has Disappeared?

Grant tells Consumerist that his next-door neighbor disappeared…maybe because of an impending foreclosure, maybe not. No one knows where she has gone. They do know that the house is unoccupied, and Grant worries that the ravages of a Midwestern winter might burst a pipe or cause other damage to the empty home. Why does he care? They’re townhouses, and whatever happens to the house next door could affect him.

We live in a townhouse in the suburbs of Chicago. Back in July, we saw moving trucks in front of our next-door neighbor’s home – there had been no for-sale signs (a common sight in what used to be a high-demand neighborhood) so this was a bit of a surprise. She hasn’t been seen since – and no one else on the block knows why (yes, we’re gossips.) I’m assuming she left ahead of a foreclosure, which is her business, etc. But with winter approaching, I’m worried that “no resident = no utilities”, and a frozen pipe inside a shared wall would cause us more problems than we can afford… I’ve thought about contacting the HOA (useless?) or trying to find the mortgage lender (how?) and I’m not really sure how to proceed. Do you have any tips?

The homeowners’ association should know who owns the house now, which is a good start. Consumerist Hive Mind, have you had similar experiences? Share your wisdom.

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  1. Portlandia says:

    Call the HOA and bring this to their attention.

    If this is a townhouse the HOA is likely responsible for the structure and might be interested in checking on the unit or have a means of contacting the previous owner to determine the status of the unit.

    • Portlandia says:

      oops…Previous owner s/b just owner.

    • nathanjovin@gmail.com says:

      I’m on my HOA board and it’s in the OP’s best interest to follow up on his own.

      While the HOA is responsible for the “structure,” this doesn’t include drywall, carpet, furniture, etc. If a pipe were to break in the abandoned unit, the OP would need to chase the owner of that unit for reimbursement.

      The HOA will attempt to locate and contact the owner but in this economy with people essentially abandoning their houses it’s very rare to get a response and even more rare to get somebody to do something about it.

    • dg says:

      Call the HOA. If the person is gone, they should do whatever they have to in order to gain access, drain the pipes and winterize the unit. They should then slap a lien on the property to recover their costs when it’s sold.

      If the HOA doesn’t take action, then when it gets cold – smash a back window, let yourself in, drain the hot water heater and other pipes, pour antifreeze in the toilets/tanks and all the drains. Then cover the window with some cardboard, and leave it. Just deny everything if anyone asks. It’d be the best hour and $10 worth of antifreeze you’ll spend.

      • gman863 says:

        Sadly, this is the best idea of the 100 or so posts so far.

        My HOA sends out letters on violations. That’s it. The house next to mine was vacant and rat infested for six months. At times, there were squatters (no electricity, but dim lights at night) doing drugs or who knows what. When I called and wrote to the HOA and security patrol, the standard response was, “were aware of it and working on the problem”. Although legal covenants give the HOA the right to do emergency lawn mowing or repairs and put a lein on the property for the bill, the property managers were either lazy or refused to grow a pair and enforce the rules.

        The problem was only solved when the property was sold out of foreclosure and the new owner fixed it up as a rental.

        Most HOA’s are a fucking joke, including mine. Protect your own property; the HOA won’t.

  2. humphrmi says:

    The title transfers are public record, although I’m not sure how to go about getting them. Maybe start with your village / town hall?

    Then, just to be safe, find out how much it would cost to add water damage to your insurance. And make sure it covers a burst pipe in a common wall belonging to an adjacent, uninsured unit.

  3. common_sense84 says:

    HOA is probably the only option. They should be able to pay for heat and then take ownership of the house if whoever does own it does not pay them back.

    • njack says:

      I don’t think the HOA can (or even would) take over payment of the heat.

      This actually happened at a townhome in my neighborhood. Pipes burst, filled the basement, continued to freeze, then eventually leaked into the neighboring homes. The owner of the vacant home was held responsible.

      Since that time, the HOA has taken an interest in monitoring for unoccupied homes more closely and working with the owner to ensure they keep the heat on or are winterized.

      • Firethorn says:

        if it risks community property, they probably can actually. Then put a lien on the property to get the money back.

  4. Nighthawke says:

    The tax assessor’s office will have the current taxpayer on file who is paying for the home. That is a good start, also the probate office will have the same info as well if the person is deceased.

    • ZacharyCachimba says:

      That’s true, and many counties have foreclosure info by address listed on the web as well. Here it’s the public trustee that lists it, but that could vary regionally.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      After speaking with the HOA (which probably has all the skinny), I would absolutely check with the assessor’s office. Go to your city / county assessor’s office’s website. Most have a way to check for the owner of the property right on the website. If not, you can call them and get the information that way.

      We do this all the time to figure out where to go to pull permits when working on certain properties. It’s very simple.

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    The mortgage is probably recorded. The county should have the info. I’d contact HOA and owner to alert them of the problem. I’d do it in writing by certified mail with return receipt. Have it clearly documented that you put them on notice in case there is a problem in the future. I’d check my homeowners insurance coverage and maybe get a but more if I think I might need it.

  6. dolemite says:

    Instead of calling them townhouses, they should be called “Big apartments you buy”. I don’t have to worry a lick if my neighbor leaves town perpetually, because my house is my house. Not a duplex attached to someone else’s dwelling.

    I dunno, call the landlord, or maintenance guy or whoever works on the apartmen…I mean houses.

    • K-Bo says:

      You say that, but I live in a townhouse with an active hoa that keeps people in line, and if they take off or something like this, the hoa takes care of the house and puts a lien on the house in order to protect the value of the rest of the homes. My parents live in a single family home with a neighbor who disappeared. His house is now a falling apart eyesore, and trees from his yard keep falling in my parents yard. It’s killing my parents property values, and there isn’t much they can do about it unless it gets to the point of becoming a health/safety hazard.

      • dolemite says:

        True, true. There are benefits/disadvantanges of both I suppose. I simply don’t want to have to worry if my neighbor has roaches or his pipes bust, or he likes to listen to rap at 3 am in the morning because I hear them through the walls. Maybe I’m just lucky have have pretty decent neighbors.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I’m guessing most new townhouses have HOA.

          When I lived in Philly, we weren’t so lucky. There wasn’t much you could do if your neighbor (or his landlord) didn’t take care of their rowhouse. Their rotted roof, crappy wiring, crappy plumbing, roaches, etc. could easily make your life miserable. If it burned, you’d be lucky if their tiny parcel was demolished.

          We used to joke that a former rowhouse, with gaps on either side (from fire and/or demolished) were called “urban singles”.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          For what it’s worth, I’ve lived many townhouses throughout my life and I really like them. Even in the oldest townhouse I lived in, I never heard my neighbor. There was one townhouse in which I could hear my neighbors but they were loud college kids and we were quiet college kids. I bet they loved living next to us.

          • baquwards says:

            I own a townhouse and have a neighbor’s dog that barks constanly, I don’t hear a thing through the walls, these are very well constructed townhomes, much better than any apartment I have ever lived in! I do hear him bark when I go outside because he is by the window watching me.

      • Alvis says:

        They should worry more about their own house than the state of the neighbors’.

        • Me - now with more humidity says:

          Except that when you share walls, their problems can become your problems. If pipes burst, for example.

          • Alvis says:

            K-Bo’s parents live in a single family home

            • Brunette Bookworm says:

              And their neighbor’s lack of attention to stuff is affecting their yard. Stuff is falling into their yard, etc.

            • perkonkrusts says:

              They probably do worry more about their own house, and less about their neighbor’s. But they still worry about their neighbor’s, just less than about their own. Maybe they barely, barely, barely worry about it at all. There isn’t a limit of one thing we’re allowed to worry about at a time.

        • jesirose says:

          They are worried about their house, they’re worried about their falling property value…

        • K-Bo says:

          Their own house is very well maintained ( $2000 + in upgrades every year for the last 3 years, on top of all needed maintenance tasks), but unfortunately has a horrible view of an eyesore of a house. The drop in value from the neighbors doesn’t bother them as much as the fact that just like most buyers, they don’t want to have to look at the mess next door. It affects their ability to enjoy it, and their ability to sell it for market value if they decide to leave.

          • Alvis says:

            Part of a free society means having to look at things we may not like.

            • K-Bo says:

              Yes, but part of the accepted norm of neighborly behavior in this country is that the whole neighborhood attempt to protect property values because if they go down, everyone looses. Not saying he should be upgrading his house, but mowing the lawn and replacing broken windows would be nice. In fact, most hoas around here have terms like that written into their charter so that by buying the house, you agree to keep it up to a minmum level of repair. Since I brought this all up not to whine about the best view, but to show the advantage to townhouse living ( townhouse hoas are even more strict about these things because the risk of damage to other units) the fact that he is free to let his house fall apart pretty much proves my point. I know I will take care of my house, I enjoy living somewhere where everyone else has committed to this also, and there are steps to take if someone isn’t keeping the neighborhood from looking trashy.

      • ktetch says:

        I think the declining real estate market, you know the one whose bubble burst a little while back, is killing your parent’s property value. Whats the HOA gong to do about that? oh, nothing? Thats because it’s just a group of busibodies, wannabe cops,the impotent wanting to feel important

        • K-Bo says:

          No, their house is significantly less likely to sell for the values of similar houses on different streets where you don’t have to look at cracked windows and falling trees and overgrown weeds. The town my parents live in has not had a decline in property values in the last 3 years.

    • Ochie says:

      Well good for you dolemite! I’m glad you are using this as an opportunity to brag that you live in a single family home and to ridicule the OP about living in a townhome. The OP was just asking for a suggestion on how to go about in the situation that they are in and don’t need people like you who has nothing good to say and just want everything to be about them. Again, kudos to you dolemite!

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Aren’t you special…

    • Gulliver says:

      Yes, and living in that townhouse allows me to NOT have to shovel any snow, mow the lawn, clean gutters, pay homeowners insurance, replace roofs, replace siding, or do landscaping. It seems pretty snotty for you to think YOUR way is the only way people should live by calling it “a big apartment you buy” It is not an apartment. Typical of those who have nothing to offer the conversation, but seem to want to imply they are better than somebody else.

      • jeff_the_snake says:

        my last apartment did all that stuff for me too.

        now i own a house and it’s like a big apartment where i’m the maintenance guy.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I live in a fantastic apartment and never have to worry about repairs or other people’s mistakes. I have a gym, a couple of pools, attached garage, no one living below me, and a private driveway with a nice big tree. And, no HOA fees. All the while, my mom is facing trying to come up with thousands of dollars to repair and update her house that she pays the same for as I do in rent. It’s falling apart and isn’t much bigger than our place. Mine is shiny and new inside.

      • dolemite says:

        Yeah, but that stuff isn’t free. I could hire some kid down the street for $20 a month to mow my grass, or pay some guys to do the gutters. I’ve seen some HOA fees in the $150-$200 range per month.

        • K-Bo says:

          Usually they are only that high if it includes insurance or a big fancy pool and clubhouse. That or if you live somewhere fairly expensive (I once saw a 600 sq ft condo in DC with $600 a month condo fees!) Most of the townhouses I looked at that just included yard work were about $20-$35 a month. Mine includes yard work, insurance, re-roofing, exterior maintenance/repair on the house, a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and of course, maintenance and landscaping of all common areas in the neighborhood. Not bad considering membership to independent swim/racket clubs would run more than that in this area.

      • bbf says:

        @Gulliver
        There are many definitions of townhouse, but generally it means that there’s nobody living above you. Therefore in many cases, when one purchases a townhouse the HOA is NOT responsible for the roof, you are, also that patch of grass outside your front door, you’re also responsible for that. Definitely it differs from HOA to HOA, but since I’ve been house/condo/townhouse shopping lately, I’m well aware of what HOA fees cover and what they do not, and in my area, more often than not, but a huge margin, roofs are not covered by HOA fees with Townhouses.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      Whoop-dee-shit. I’ll just sit here envious of your single-family home then.

      • lockdog says:

        You’ll all come crying back north when you run out of water or the cost of electric makes air conditioning impractical.

        • Rena says:

          …and then South again when the costs of heating are also impractical. It’s cold up here! x.x

          Hm, maybe birds are onto something…

        • gman863 says:

          I guess that means us Texans need to strengthen the border patrols on our Northern flanks.

          We don’t want undocumented Chicagoans sneaking in when the price of heating oil spikes to $4/gallon.

    • ellmar says:

      That’s right, dolemite. Instead of “Chicago suburb” they should just call it “big refrigerator that you live in.” I don’t have to worry if my neighbor leaves their townhouse unattended all winter. I live in the desert, where it’s warm and cozy all year long, not some god-forsaken frozen tundra where pipe burst from the cold.

      I dunno, call the movers and live somewhere warmer.

      See how helpful that was?

      • Mike says:

        As someone who grew up in a frozen tundra and has been living in the Southwest for years now, your comment is funny because it is true.

      • Portlandia says:

        +100!!

        That was a lot nice and a hell of a lot funnier than my comment.

        Dolomite makes his own douche at home.

    • BETH says:

      I own my own home, so of course I have to pay for everything myself. But I don’t have any neighbors! I have peace and privacy. I lived in an apartment 25 years ago. I had the meanest, most miserable, nastiest neighbors that anyone could be cursed with. My two children and I were the only normal family in that complex. I hated that place, and it was the happiest day of my life when I moved into my own home.

    • runswithscissors says:

      I would have bought detached if I could have afforded the extra $100,000. So we’re not all stupid, some of us are just poor.

  7. KCDebi says:

    Call the utilities – Perhaps you can verify if they are still turned on and seek out what information they can provide. Maybe the water company can ensure there is no water in those pipes to cause a problem?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Pipes have to be winterized to be safe from bursting. It does not matter if utilities have been shut off or not, as bursting occurs from the remaining water in the pipes. The utility company would not likely have knowledge of whether or not winterization has occured.

  8. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    You should be a good neighbor, and take it upon yourself to change the locks, transfer the utilities to your name, and rent out the townhouse for a tidy profit!

    {/sarcasm}

    This has happened a few times in the NW over the past year…

    • EdnasEdibles says:

      Seriously though, I would imagine if the HOA owns it they could rent it out and then at least it would be occupied and the HOA wouldn’t have to cover the utilities.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        The last thing HOAs want to do is own property. (I used to be an HOA president)

        • njack says:

          You’re absolutely right, the HOA does not want to get into the ownership of units..still am an HOA president.

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    We’ve had a neighbor gone months at a time for almost 5 years at this point. He bought the house at the peak of the boom. He said he was going to permanently move in-ppfffttt. It’s a flip gone bad now he doesn’t know what to do with it. He lives in another city but has family in area.

    The house needs major repairs. He drags his feet on known repairs and completely misses others when he comes late at night for a few hours just to pick up mail. He’s already been cited for several things but that doesn’t seem to deter him. The only good thing is that he seems to be keeping his utilities on.

    Until an empty house becomes a real hassle/violation and not just a mystery or eye sore i guess there’s not much you can or should do since it’s someone else’s property.

  10. jaredwilliams says:

    Not likely the pipes will freeze or burst on a shared wall sandwiched between other heated homes. But I suppose it’s possible.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      If it gets cold enough, the exposed pipes in the crawlspace or unfinished basement can definitely burst. If the utilities are completely turned off, then it can get well below freezing inside and interior pipes can also burst and toilets can crack. Same thing with outside spigots.

      Unless you live in New England or around the Great Lakes, very few people insulate pipes that are located inside of cabinets and/or under sinks or put anti-freeze in toilets.

      Since this guy lives outside of Chicago, I’m guessing his winters are pretty rough. The only way to prevent bursting pipes in a home with no heat would be to shut off the water at the meter and then drain the house.

      • njack says:

        I’ve seen this exact situation in the Denver area.

        The issue is even with shared walls, if it does get cold enough and the home is not winterized, the pipes can definitely freeze, especially on exterior walls. The added focus of people being more energy conscious and keeping their homes cooler in the winter only increases this potential.

      • Skeptic says:

        Yeah, you’re right, kb01. I grew up in a Chicago suburb and lived in CT, MA, NH & VT as an adult, and our pipes were insulated in all these places, but, as you suggest, not any where else. Like the state I live in now (Alaska).

        I’m with the readers who doubt pipes will freeze as long as the adjacent dwellings remain heated, no windows or doors are breached, and the townhome was constructed with average- thickness walls and decent design (i.e. no water supply pipes running up the outside of the siding).

    • Shadowman615 says:

      But if other pipes burst the bottom floor or basement eventually starts filling up with water which potentially might start leaking over to next door.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      It’s Chicago. I can definitely happen. Even if my parent’s older single family home, if we close off the insulated laundry room, the pipes could burst on a cold day in there. Yes, it is possible, so we can’t close that door all day. Many times in my childhood I can remember neighbors having us check their house while they were in Florida (many in our neighborhood were/are retired). They wanted just to be SURE everything was working.

  11. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    As long as the heat is on, no pipes will burst. If you worry about the outside, open the bib slightly, and that will prevent freezing.

  12. Geekybiker says:

    For once a HOA can serve a useful function. They have as much interest in tracking down the owner/lender as you. Plus they are paid to do stuff like this. Tell them and let them do the work.

  13. clownsRcreepy says:

    Well since we don’t know who the mortgage is through, I would recommend calling BoA and having them foreclose….

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    HOAs aren’t completely useless. If you tell them of impending disaster that will damage the property, they will likely jump to action. Because even if the homeowner’s fault, most likely it will cause damage to something that is owned by the HOA and they do not want an insurance hassle to deal with.

  15. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Contact the HOA’s management company.

  16. Mom says:

    For as long as there have been townhouses, there have been unoccupied townhouses, even in the wintertime. If this was likely at all to happen, you’d hear about it all the time.

  17. rocklob says:

    Try testing the outside spigots to see if the water is still on. If it’s not, leave the spigots wide open to reduce the chance of frozen pipes.

    • rocklob says:

      Oops, I meant bursting pipes. Opening the spigots wouldn’t prevent freezing, but would help prevent them from bursting if they do.

  18. TheWraithL98 says:

    if the main water shutoff is outside (the OP should know this owning the mirror house), turn it off if it isn’t already and slide a note under the door about it. if it’s not accessible, contact the HOA to do it.

  19. TheFinalBoomer says:

    Report it. I live in a TH community and when people bug out they cut off the water at the street.

  20. mudster says:

    Same thing happened to me a long time ago, we gave a condo back to the bank and I even wrote a letter to the bank about the heat in the winter. But they did nothing, pipes froze and flooded 3 other units basements that were attached.

  21. drburk says:

    Check the county or city records to see who now owns the house. Send the owner (bank, mortgage company, person etc) a letter that warns them of the dangers to your property if the space is left unheated. Send the letter certified mail and fax it possible. Keep a record of this letter so when the pipe bursts you can show your insurance company you warned the property owner of potential for damage. Your insurance company will use this to seek damages from the owner.

  22. Gizmosmonster says:

    You don’t say which county you live in, and the Chicago suburbs stretch across a lot of territory, so I am suggesting you start with this Web site: http://chicagotribune.public-record.com/realestate/ You will be able to find out what the status of the townhouse is, and who owns it now.

    Then I would go through your HOA documents looking for options. Is there anything in there discussing what each homeowner is required to do to regarding shared walls? In digging through the gobbledygook, look for anything talking about maintaining firewalls, soundproofing, that sort of thing. Next look to see what the HOA remedies are for the violation.

    If you are lucky, BoA does own it now. The HOA may be useless, but if, once made aware of the problem, they refuse to take action to make sure that the bordering property owners are protected, you should have some legal remedies against them to cover any damages you incur through their negligence. Point that out if you need to.
    Bottom line- You may have to do all of the actual work yourself, but taking action now will make for a much more happier January.

  23. brianisthegreatest says:

    What if they lived next to someone in an empty unit? What’s so wrong with that? I’d rejoice at not having a neighbor in my apartment.

    • Firethorn says:

      Pipes freeze, then thaw = MY basement flooded = MY stuff damaged and I have to pay MY deductible.

      Then, depending, I have to pay the HOA to get the property fixed back up for sale before it becomes and eyesore and lowers property values.

  24. HoJu says:

    When I lived in a townhouse, I had a very noisy single neighbor. One day, it all stopped…. For weeks.
    We wondered what was going on. The house was still furnished. He was just gone.
    WEEKS.

    One day, he showed up with a woman and that was the end of that.
    Turns out he met this woman online, went to South Africa (where she lived) to marry her, and take her home with him.

    After that he wasn’t quite as noisy.
    You’d think it would be the other way around.

  25. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    you can try the town building department, they may be able to confirm or deny the winterization status of the house directly. they may have some kind of code violation they can whip up such as house abandonment or something.

  26. Mr. TheShack says:

    I think it is funny that consumerist has to add things like “Why does he care? (because it affects him)”. Because they know the commenters will bring out people who obviosly don’t care about their fellow man.

  27. operator207 says:

    Does her postal mailbox overflow? If not, there is a good chance she is getting it forwarded. Maybe mail her a letter, certified, telling her what is going on, put a number for her to call you in the letter. Try asking if she would call you and let you know if it is or not, and make sure she understands you simply do not want one of her pipes busting and causing damage to your home. Don’t put anything in the letter that would hint your trying to get her in trouble. if she can abandon a house, she probably does not care if your house gets damaged in the process.

    With the certified letter, at least you can get proof that your concerned about this, and you did what you could to prevent it. In case it does happen, and insurance is an issue.

  28. UltimateOutsider says:

    Does the OP know whether the neighbor was the actual owner of the townhouse or just a tenant? We live in a very high-demand neighborhood too, but the house next door is a rental property whose owners are pretty lazy and live far away. That house sometimes just goes vacant for months without any signs out front and then one day suddenly new people are living there.

    Until the most recent tenants moved in, we’d been pretty lucky with neighbors. *sigh* Also, now the property is in pretty bad need of repainting, landscaping, general cleanup, and some structural work- and I know the owner is a bit of a cheapskate.

  29. mcs328 says:

    In MD, if they damage is more than $5000, the HOA covers the amount above that. The HOA absolutely has an interest if the structure goes to hell.

  30. sr71pav says:

    I actually had this exact same situtation occur 3-4 years ago, except I’m in Indiana. In my case, the pipe actually did burst, but I caught the problem in time and saved myself from too much damage. I ended up breaking into the other unit in order to shut off the water to prevent further damage. After this episode I learned quite a bit. In Indiana (and I see no reason why other states wouldn’t have this), by law the utility company cannot turn off gas/electric to units because of this situation. Granted, it seems the utility company doesn’t care and shuts it off anyway. I would check into the laws in Chicago/Illinois if there is anything similar.

    The unit has since been foreclosed on and is now owned by the HOA (the guy was so far in arrears of dues it was crazy!). Every winter I do a walk by the gas hook-up and make sure everything is good for the whole building.

    Your best bet, as others have said, is to contact the HOA (typically, you have to get ahold of whoever is from the management company that helps run the HOA). They are the most likely to be able to help and offer advice. I would also take a look and see if the gas or electric has been turned off to the unit, and, if it has, become a thron in the side of the HOA until everything is turned on. Typically, the HOA will have to foot the bill, but keeping a unit heated to 55 or so isn’t really that expensive. Certainly, it’s better than having a burst pipe.

    My other piece of advice: when you’re out of town, definitely have another direct neighbor have a key to get into your place regularly to make sure there’s nothing wrong. In my case, both I and the guy next to me had water issues as a result of this. If one of us had been away, the other could have checked the other place for damage, as well, and taken care of things a bit.

  31. OnePumpChump says:

    Make sure the water is shut off at the main and then open all the taps, and you shouldn’t have any burst pipes, right?

  32. StevePierce says:

    Call the city and get a health and welfare inspection. They shuld be able to enter to make sure she isn’t lying on the floor dead. They can also check if the gas and water bills are current.

    If it appears abandoned, or gas and water bills are past due, they should be able to order a shut off of utilities and a board up to secure the home. Won’t look pretty but in January, water won’t be pouring into other units.

    Also now would be a good time to check your homeowners insurance. They may not cover a flood from a neighbors townhouse at which point you will need flood insurance. So check now.

    – Steve

  33. PeaInAPod says:

    Turn off the water main. Even with townhomes each house should have their own main cutoff valve. Besides a pipe bursting the only other thing I would worry about in an empty home, especially in the winter is mice moving in.

  34. Bodger says:

    If there is a HOA then they need to be notified, preferably in writing and sent certified mail return receipt required, of potential damage. That way you have at least a bit of a chance of suing them if they fail to act. Lacking a HOA you may be able to find the name of the mortgage holder through your local recorder of deeds (or equivalent) and then notify the mortgage holder similarly. Seems paranoid on my part but notifying someone of a potential danger without a way of later proving that you did leaves you far more exposed. The minimal cost of certified mail and a receipt fee is good insurance.

  35. Tongsy says:

    Just break in at night and turn the heat on.

  36. Technologirl says:

    The HOA has no ability to do anything, so they won’t.

    Basically, this is a risk of owning property that shares a wall with someone else.

    It’s what homeowners insurance was created for.

  37. Billy says:

    You only get to call the HOA “useless” if they don’t do anything about it. Right now, though, they are in the best position to do anything about it.

  38. jim says:

    He should call 911. maybe they WERE kidnapped and all their stuff stolen in a moving van.

  39. Destra says:

    Besides the HOA, you can always go to your town’s records of deeds to see who currently owns the house title as well as anyone who as any liens on the house. Through that you can contact the appropriate bank who holds the title or liens on the house.

  40. gman863 says:

    In a reply to the first post in this thread, “dg” stated,

    “If the HOA doesn’t take action, then when it gets cold – smash a back window, let yourself in, drain the hot water heater and other pipes, pour antifreeze in the toilets/tanks and all the drains. Then cover the window with some cardboard, and leave it. Just deny everything if anyone asks. It’d be the best hour and $10 worth of antifreeze you’ll spend.”

    Sadly, this is the best idea of the 100 or so posts so far.

    My HOA sends out letters on violations. That’s it. The house next to mine was vacant and rat infested for six months. At times, there were squatters (no electricity, but dim lights at night) doing drugs or who knows what. When I called and wrote to the HOA and security patrol, the standard response was, “were aware of it and working on the problem”. Although legal covenants give the HOA the right to do emergency lawn mowing or repairs and put a lein on the property for the bill, the property managers were either lazy or refused to grow a pair and enforce the rules.

    The problem was only solved when the property was sold out of foreclosure and the new owner fixed it up as a rental.

    Most HOA’s are a fucking joke, including mine. Protect your own property; the HOA won’t.

  41. jaymer says:

    If it was me and I was 100% sure the place was vacant I would:

    - Pick the Lock/Jimmy Open the Sliding Door
    – Go to the basement, drain the pipes, and turn off the water, possibly turning off the main breaker.

    Of course:

    - I know how to do these things
    – Would do it at an opportune time so the cops don’t get called.

    Yeah. Thats about it.

  42. only1cashbaker says:

    All deeds have to be registered with the county court clerk or pva office. The registered deed has to have the deeds owner name and contact info.

    Check out this information and you should be able to at least find out which company holds the mortgage on the property.