Harry Elson of Ferrell Avenue said his life is made miserable because the house next door, abandoned for ten years, has tall weeds and rodents.
Now the Ohio County Health Department administrator says he’s been working on this case for some time.
Howard Gamble says, when a property is overgrown and neglected, the health department contacts the owner and tells them what to do.
“Cut it and maintain it and treat it,” says Gamble. “Treat it for rats, snakes, poison ivy, whatever issues exist.”
But before they issue orders to the owner, they have to know who the owner is.
And that’s where this case gets complicated.
Gamble says the owner of this house reportedly stopped making mortgage payments at some point, and a bank took over ownership.
But now the bank officials tell Gamble that they have “released” it–given it back to the owner.
However, the owner says he was never notified of this.
Property records in the city building haven’t caught up with the latest changes either.
“We have several entities involved,” says Gamble. “We just haven’t been able to figure out technically who owns the property.”
This is all small comfort to Harry Elson, living next door, unable to see through the weeds, and worrying about snakes and rats.
“I don’t believe Americans should act like this,” Elson says. “I do not.”
Sadly, some properties never do have a resolution.
“Throughout West Virginia and the whole nation, you’ll sometimes have abandoned properties,” Gamble says. “People leave, people die. And eventually they will fall down and just be an eyesore until the weeds cover them up and time moves on.”
But the health department administrator believes this case will be able to be corrected.
He just urges Harry Elson to be patient.
“The key is, we have to find out who technically owns it,” Gamble says.