Westfield woman fights to clean up vacant home next door

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WESTFIELD, Ind. -- An elderly woman says the house next door to hers is literally falling apart, and she's sick of it being open to vandals.

Marie Fox contacted CBS4 Problem Solvers to see if she could get answers, after years of pushing on her own. Fox has lived in her neighborhood for decades.

"It was the third house in this addition," Fox said of the home next door. "That was the third one, we were the fifth one."

In recent years, though, Fox said the home has fallen into disrepair, and she's spent countless hours trying to get it fixed up.

"I was getting frustrated I couldn't get anywhere," Fox said.

Fox said things really went downhill last year, when the house caught fire. After that, it sat vacant. When CBS4 Problem Solvers visited, we found the front door, inside the porch, wide open. Fox said her neighbors had chased teens off the property in the past.

"I'd like to see it either fixed up to the point where it's habitable and presentable, or torn down," Fox said. "It really needs to be torn down."

CBS4 Problem Solvers started looking for answers, and found some in court documents.

The City of Westfield filed a lawsuit against the homeowners and mortgage company, Santander, in August. According to Fox and online records, though, both homeowners are deceased.

In the lawsuit, the city's attorney says "numerous complaints have been lodged...by its citizens" against the house, and it is a "nuisance or hazard to the public."

The city asked a judge to declare the house "in violation of the Westfield Code of Ordinances," which could allow it to either be fixed up or torn down.

While the lawsuit remains tied up in court, with a February hearing date scheduled next, Fox said little has happened to contain the home, though.

"It's deteriorating my value and I have to look at it, and I can't stand it," Fox said.

A spokesperson for Santander, the mortgage company, sent CBS4 Problem Solvers this statement:

“Santander retains property preservation vendors to ensure unoccupied properties are appropriately maintained and secured. Our vendor is currently working with the township to address its concerns.”

A spokesperson for the City of Westfield sent this statement:

“The City of Westfield listened to the concerns of our residents and members of the City Council and took legal action. The city can not comment further on pending litigation.”

In the meantime, Fox said she won't stop until she sees progress, and she's hoping that will start soon.

"I know how things work and they're usually swept under the rug if you don't make a big stink, which I plan to do," Fox said.

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