Saturday, November 16, 2013

ABC 20-20: "Home Sweet Home: notes about abusive landlords, accidental demolition, sinkholes, and a warning about hoarding

ABC 20-20’s “Home Sweet Home” episode Friday night contained several disturbing anecdotes.
One was a story of a married couple in San Francisco who terrorized tenants to force them to leave, because they wanted to flip houses.    This all happened before the 2008 housing collapse.  The couple fled to Italy and had to be extradited to be prosecuted for theft of tenants’ belonging and other charges.

A more relevant story for most people concerns homes being demolished by mistake.  A couple is fighting with the Fort Worth, TX city council after the city ordered the demolition of the wrong house, on a lake.  In Arkansas, a demolition contractor simply got an address wrong.  In that case, the city and contractor are pointing fingers and leaving the homeowner in the cold.  The homeowner may not have the resources to litigate against the contractor.  One question would be, what happens with homeowners insurance. 

The show went on to cover the epidemic of sinkholes in the Tampa FL area, interviewing a couple noticing cracks in its home, and showing another neighborhood evacuated after a sinkhole swallowed one home.  Barbara Cochrane spoke about the effect on home values.  Homeowners are spending up to $50000 to have spaces under their homes filled with concrete.
The last segment showed an entrepreneur who specializes in cleaning up the homes of hoarders in Orange County, CA.  The segment mentioned that the county can condemn a home for hoarding and order the homeowner to sell and/or leave within thirty days, with the dreaded “red sign”.  Hoarding cases have been covered before on TLC. Keeping house can take a lot of manual labor and time, as my own mother showed for years. 

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