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Problem Solvers: Hundreds of abandoned properties causing nuisance for neighbors

Posted at 6:15 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 14:22:22-04

TULSA, Okla. — Every year, the City of Tulsa investigates 15,000 blighted property complaints.

From tall grass to abandoned structures, the city investigates each complaint made to the website or 311. Right now, there are 605 properties in Tulsa on a list monitoring them for demolition.

Being on the list doesn’t mean the homes will be knocked down, but it means they are in the process of being declared a nuisance property and could be demolished eventually.

Properties like these can irritate neighbors, especially, if the structure attracts unwanted attention from squatters, animals or trash.

“Most of our problematic houses are related to either a deceased family member that nobody can claim the property or an out of town landlord,” said Brant Pitchford with the City of Tulsa.

Since last week in Tulsa, two vacant properties caught fire. Investigators suspect trespassers squatting may have caused those fires.

Neighbors contacted the Problem Solvers about a property near North Memorial and Marshall they want cleaned up. The property has a damaged roof with a tattered tarp, overgrown yard and trash littering the inside.

“Well, this house recently went for a sheriff sale," Pitchfor said. "So, we had a new owner. We had to re-notify the new owner, due to the new ownership and give them the proper required time, the ordinance to take care of all the violations we found, which were tall grass and weeds trash junk debris unsecured structure.”

The hardest part for frustrated neighbors and city workers alike, these properties can take weeks, months and even years to clean up.

"We go through an administrative hearing process to get it deemed a nuisance, and then the owners put on notice that they have so many days to either make the repairs or they can demolish or we'll demolish it," Pitchford said. "It can take six to eight months before we can demolish a house."

So, what options does the city have?

“If we have an out-of-town landlord, which in this case the landlord is a registered LLC out of Oklahoma City, we have no, usually no remedy, other than doing the abatement, which we will you know," Pitchford said. "We'll secure the property, clean it up and then we'll monitor it. Every 30 days until it becomes non problematic to us."

The maintenance of these properties costing taxpayers up to $450 just to do yard work at one vacant house.

Pitchford’s advice to frustrated neighbors is to keep reporting blighted properties even if you think nothing is being done.

City crews investigate every complaint and can keep notifying the homeowner until something is done.

To report a nuisance property, call 3-1-1 or CLICK HERE.

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