Renters move out, leave furniture and trash behind for city to clean up and taxpayers foot the bill

Posted at 8:14 PM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 21:14:23-04

TULSA-- Hundreds of Tulsa properties in violation of city code ordinances get cleaned up— not by the homeowner— but by the city. Many times those bills are left unpaid— passing the cost to taxpayers.

A child’s toy, a coffee can, a cereal box, mattresses are all things you expect to see at a landfill. Those are not items piled up inside a dump-- but the front yard of a northeast Tulsa home.

“The next day it’s bigger than it was the night before so you’re going alright, it’s just a constant cycle,” said Angela Ellison.

Neighbors say people come by and sift through the trash, sometimes taking items from the pile. Others are adding to it.

City code inspectors say it's a common problem.

“We have problems like this that seem to be an ongoing issue for the neighborhoods,” said Tim Cartner with the city's Code Enforcement Office.

Cartner says the city cleaned up the property in July because of previous complaints, including grass and weeds growing taller than the backyard fence.

The city billed the owner $800 for the work. That bill has still not been paid.

The owner of the home is listed as "Help Housing" of Broken Arrow. County assessor records show "Help Housing" owns at least 4 properties in Tulsa.

Officers can file misdemeanor charges against the property owner when violations aren't fixed or bills for clean up aren't paid— but not in this case.

"There are misdemeanor criminal charges that could be filed but in this case, on a misdemeanor charge, that has to be done in the corporate city limits of Tulsa, with this being an out of town owner that wouldn’t be an option because we can’t file a charge out of town,” Cartner said.

Cartner says there are at least 250 properties in Tulsa where the owner refuses to clean up and doesn’t pay the bill. That prompts overloaded enforcement officers to re-inspect the property every two weeks until it’s in compliance.

Neighbors have a message for the homeowner.

"Clean it up— nobody else's yard in the neighborhood looks like that it's a terrible eyesore,” said neighbor Bennie Flynn.

Until then— the trash keeps piling up.

City inspectors are scheduled to come back to the house Monday for a follow up.

To report a problem in your neighborhood contact click here.

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