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Squatters and weeds: Neighborhood struggles with neglected house

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 21:13:29-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - How'd you like to look out your window and see a rundown house with tall weeds?

Of course you wouldn’t, but that’s what they’re fighting in midtown Tucson’s Palo Verde Neighborhood. 

The neighborhood association says squatters even took over the house before police cleared them out.  

City law says houses should be in good condition with a clean yard.

Weeds at the house that’s the focus of the complaints are well over the six inches the city calls a violation.

Palo Verde Neighborhood Association President Ronni Kotwica says this house has a history of a careless landlord and reckless tenants.

"When the renter moves out they'll just throw their furniture out in the front yard."

City Code Enforcement shows six complaints in the last five years.

A neighbor thought she saw people using drugs at the house. She told Tucson Police.

Kotwica says, “They knocked on the door and there were two squatters inside; had nothing to do, they should not have been there.  They were not on a lease or anything and once had drugs and the other one had a warrant so both were arrested."

Kotwica says time's up on the city deadline to clean up the place.

The owner would not talk on camera but said the debris in this truck is evidence of his work to clear the clutter in the house.

He says weather slowed his work and suggests monsoon rain made weeds grow faster than he realized.

The house is in Councilmember Steve Kozachik's Ward.

“The guy can say what he wants but the picture speaks a thousand words.  The place is a dump and he needs to either sell the thing, get it rented out or get over there and just clean it up.  He does not have a right to inflict himself on the rest of the neighbors around there, driving their property values down and just being a blight on the community."

Now City Code Enforcement can take the landlord to court, impose fines, or finally hire someone to clean up the place, bill the owner and slap a lien on the property but that can take months and neighbors have to look at the place in the meantime.