You may wish you had some time before you must deal with all the issues of a house you’ve inherited, including maintenance and repairs. More time to decide about selling or leasing; time to work out questions about the will and the estate. But vacant houses rapidly become problems not just for the owners, but for the community as well.
- City governments, as well as the neighbors, look on houses sitting vacant and un-maintained for more than a few weeks as an escalating nuisance. Overgrown yards nurture destructive rodents that will bring trouble to neighboring properties. Empty houses attract vagrants and drug dealers, and even neighborhood children who stumble into mischief of injury.
- Vacant houses can be stripped of everything from cabinets to plumbing by thieves. The damage can be so extensive that the structural integrity of the house is compromised.
- Barely-maintained vacant homes quickly lose marketability for either sale or rental. No one wants to live in a home overrun with bugs, with gutters stuffed with debris and major work needed in the yard – not to mention interior damage. Poor conditions develop after only a short period of vacancy and escalate over time.
- Insurance coverage issues can multiply as fast as the mice and squirrels taking residence in the attic. Insurance agencies are reluctant to cover vacant houses, knowing the risks of major claims only too well. When insurance can be obtained the premiums are frequently higher than usual.
- When utilities have been switched off there are unique issues to switching them back on. The sudden surge of new water pressure can cause faucets to run and even find weak points in the plumbing. And what is a new rush of heating or air-conditioning blowing out of the vents? Have rodents been snacking on the wiring?
- And finally, back to our first point about how local governments view vacant houses … Some municipalities are diligent about community hygiene when it comes to structures. The city recognizes, even if the owner does not, that structural problems escalate and can create a hazard of both collapse and fire, as well as becoming a breeding nest for rodents, stray cats, undesirable plants and more. Condemnation and even destruction may follow. And the owner will get the bill for the bulldozers!
Letting an inherited house sit vacant and poorly maintained allows all the negatives to grow. A fast sale is usually a better option for everyone concerned, for both short-term and long-term considerations.
Question or Prompt for Response – open ended, relevant
Have you had a house with an extended vacancy – what were the largest problems?
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