4 expert tips to deal with an abandoned house in Colorado

4 expert tips to deal with an abandoned house in Colorado

Vacant houses can attract crime, create health hazards, and hurt your property value. Left abandoned too long, these unpleasant eyesores can suffer broken windows, holes in the roof, rodent infestations and/or graffiti. If there is an unattended house in your Colorado neighborhood, we are here to educate you on your rights to take action.

What to do about the abandoned house next door

Nearly 12% of homes in Colorado are vacant, according to data from RealtyTrac. These houses are frequently taken over by financial institutions. Many spend months, even years waiting for a foreclosure sale, creating a public nuisance.

Before you do anything, understand that just because no one is living in a house doesn’t necessarily mean it’s abandoned. If a house is undergoing renovation or construction, it might not be considered legally vacant.

However, if no new work has been made to the house in the last 30 days, no one is living in it, and the utilities are disconnected or not being used, there's a high chance the house can be considered abandoned. 

1. Whatever you do, don’t trespass.

Living near an abandoned property is frustrating. You may be tempted to go pick up the trash or cut down the weeds. Please refrain from taking action. It’s illegal to do anything without permission from the property owner.

The last thing you want is a citation for trespassing. Worse, you could be held financially liable for any damage you accidentally cause to the property.

As tempting as it is to fix “just one thing” on a vacant property, experts warn that you should keep your distance. There are other ways you can handle the situation.

2. Call the property owner.

In Colorado, the owner of a vacant property is required by law to post a sign clearly showing contact information, including a phone number.

In many cases, a vacant property is owned by a bank or large financial institution that may not be aware of any problems. Reach out to them and calmly explain, or offer to send photos of trouble spots, such as broken windows. The owner might send someone out to clean up the property.

3. Report the abandoned property to the authorities.

Laws regarding vacant homes vary across the state of Colorado. Some cities require owners to register vacant properties, while other cities don’t.

The city of Denver does not require owners to register vacant properties. Any unoccupied property that has code violations, becomes a nuisance to the neighborhood, or falls behind in property taxes may be ruled neglected or derelict.

In that case, the owner must file a remedial plan with the city explaining their plan to fix the violations and make the building safe and well maintained again. Owners who don’t register a property on the neglected and derelict list may be fined $1,000 per year if they don’t stay code-compliant, in addition to other fines. 

An owner who fails to register the property and comply with registration requirements may be fined $500 per day, up to a total of $15,000. In addition, the city could impose civil fees of $999 per day for each day the property is considered neglected and derelict.

You can always try reporting an unsafe abandoned house to your local housing code authority. In many cases, the Colorado government will contact the homeowner with a formal request to correct the problems. If the owner doesn’t take action in a reasonable timeframe, often the local authority will hire a contractor to do the work, and then place a lien on the property to cover the cost.

4. Contact your Colorado We Buy Ugly Houses® agent.

Your local We Buy Ugly Houses® agent specializes in fixing up “ugly" properties and may be able to get in touch with the property owner on your behalf and even negotiate the sale of the property. What was once a messy abandoned house could soon become a beautiful home and an asset to your neighborhood. To find out more, get in touch with a local property specialist today.

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