"It's not fair:" Woman frustrated nothing's being done about 'hoarder house' driving down property values

SAGINAW COUNTY, Michigan -- A neighbor in Michigan is frustrated with an eyesore of a home that she said is driving down the value of other properties in the neighborhood.

From the moment Tammy Cotton steps out her front door, that eyesore is all she sees.

"It's a hoarder that's living over there. You can see through the windows. Things are stacked all the way up to the ceiling," Cotton said.

Cotton said all the stuff in her neighbor's house is just the beginning. Cotton said the house smells bad and is a magnet for mosquitoes. Plus, critters like raccoons and rats often find their way onto Cotton's property, she said.

"It's not fair. I have to come out and see this every day and I try to take care of my property and now they want to chew up the wires in our cars -- so it's affecting our property now," Cotton said.

Cotton said the only time she sees the homeowner is when she brings more things into the house. However, it's been awhile since Cotton has seen anyone at the house, so she wondered if the house was now owned by the city.

Tim Novak, Saginaw County treasurer, said the property remains in the hands of the homeowner, but the homeowner was given a foreclosure notice last year.

"The state law requires us to provide notices when we foreclose and they have an opportunity to come to two different hearings, one at our office and one in front of a judge. This owner did this. She agreed to pay some taxes and she has the home for another year," Novak said.

Novak said unfortunately, there's not much neighbors can do.

As for Cotton, she simply wishes the mess would be cleaned up.

"It's bringing down the property value that's for sure. And we do everything to keep our property up. It's just not fair," Cotton said.

Unfortunately, all Cotton can do is wait until the county steps in, like they did in another neighborhood.

"It was full of cats. It was really bad. It was abandoned," said Gabriel Adams.

Adams said for years, the house across from his was a mess -- stinky and home to many stray cats. The owner stopped paying their property taxes and the house was foreclosed upon.

Eventually, the house was torn down and the lot was purchased by another neighbor.

"I think it's nice now that the house isn't there," Adams said.

However, not every house is torn down. Some stay boarded up and left to stand in ruins.

Novak said if the property doesn't sell in auction, it's technically up to the county to clean it up. But that leaves too much work for the Land Bank to take care of every property in their possession.

"We do our best, but it's properties we didn't go out and purchase. They're diverted to us through the tax process and we do the best we can," Novak said.

After that, Novak said any help they can get from neighbors to mow or clean up in some way would definitely be appreciated.