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Foreclosed residence riles up Auburndale

A foreclosed home sits in disarray along Utopia Parkway, causing concern among neighbors. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

An Auburndale block is fuming over a home in foreclosure that has fallen into disrepair and become a neighborhood eyesore.

Residents said the one-family house, at 32-28 Utopia Pkwy., has become an overgrown spectacle that acts as an unauthorized hangout for people who sometimes show up by the van full.

“It is a disgrace. This has been going on for years and years,” said Joan Deleo, who lives near the crumbling residence. “If I tell you about the characters who come in and out of there, you wouldn’t believe it.”

A battered awning covers junk left on the front porch and the front door is stuffed with restaurant menus and advertisements. Bags of trash are piled by the side door.

Until a neighbor recently intervened with his gardening tools, wild growth of weeds out front choked the sidewalk.

According to complaints filed with the city Department of Buildings, the garage door has been unsealed, giving house guests access to the building.

“If the bank foreclosed on this home, doesn’t the bank have some responsibility to the community to keep it in order?” Deleo asked.

The answer is complicated.

In 2007, the mortgage to the home was taken over by a company acting on behalf of Citi Bank, according to records with the city Department of Finance. The property has changed hands between several banks since then. The paperwork on the house is currently maintained by national lender U.S. Bank, although a spokeswoman said the bank does not actually own the property.

The spokeswoman said that another lender, Bank of America, is required to perform maintenance on the property.

Yet Bank of America said that foreclosure proceedings have not been completed and that the original owner still occupies the house and is responsible for it, meaning the bank cannot legally touch it.

“Our property preservation provider has been visiting the property regularly, but at each visit it has been determined that the property is occupied,” the bank said in a statement.

Complaints in the DOB database go back to February 2011, when someone alerted the department that there may be an illegal basement apartment in the building.

The home is listed as a one-family but has two doorbells, which often indicates an illegal residence. Inspectors could not gain access to the house on their first two attempts, but a violation is still active for this issue.

The home also has an active violation for being unsafe and unsecured, written Aug. 21, according to department records, and six days later the DOB started proceedings to seal the building, according to the database.

Deleo said that last week a neighbor started yelling at a group of people who showed up in a van and attempted to enter the house.

She is worried about the value of her quaint 1930s cape-style house dwindling due to the dump across the street.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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