INDIANAPOLIS -- Homeowners in the Grassy Creek subdivision on Indianapolis' east side are tired of an eyesore property plagued with high weeds, grass, rodents and insects.
Carolyn Patton lives next door to the vacant home on Timber Creek, and says the problems started last December when her neighbors left for good.
“We saw them moving out,” said Patton. “They were just gone.”
Carolyn says no one has mowed the yard so far in 2018 and now the grass and weeds measure more than a foot tall.
“This is just the front, wait until you see the back,” said Patton.
Patton said her family is tired at looking out at a jungle of weeds from their back living room and patio.
“The weeds are almost to the top of the fence, and nothing is being done,” said Patton.
It’s not just an eyesore. High weeds and grass can pose a health hazard by attracting insects and rodents.
“It’s already caused an increase of spiders and critters,” said Patton.
Patton contacted her neighborhood’s property management company.
“They sent a letter to the homeowners, and I haven’t heard anything else,” said Patton.
Patton said she also filed a complaint with the Mayor’s Action Center several weeks ago, but the grass and weeds have stayed high.
“I finally said I’m contacting you,” said Patton.
Call 6 Investigates emailed the property management company, but we didn't hear back.
We also checked with the city and learned the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services inspected the Timber Creek Drive property on May 14 and mailed the property owners a violation notice giving them until May 29 to come into compliance.
“That would have been nice if they had let me know that,” said Patton. “I would have felt better.”
The City of Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services emphasizes they give property owners 10 days to comply after a mailing a violation letter.
If they don’t, the city sends a vendor to mow and then the city mails a $363 bill to the property owner.
“If a property is abandoned or vacant, it is the responsibility of the property owner,” said Dimitri Kyser, public information officer at City of Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services (BNS). “If the grass is 12 inches or higher, then that property will be in violation.”
Call 6 Investigates reached out to the property owners who moved to a different house just over a mile away where the grass has recently been mowed.
The property owner told Call 6 Investigates she’s letting the Timber Creek house fall into foreclosure because they can’t afford it due to her husband’s back problems.
They also told Call 6 Investigates they thought the bank had taken over ownership however, records show no bank owns the Timber Creek property.
“We understand things can happen,” said Kyser. “Property owners are more than welcome to contact our office via email or phone to let us know their circumstances. Maybe they’re out of town or caring for a sick relative or it’s an older family who doesn’t have the means to do it right away.”
Kyser brought up another idea you might not think of -- mow the grass or clean up the property yourself, but only under certain circumstances.
“There is a good Samaritan law, so if you believe that a property is abandoned or vacant and you live adjacent to the property or you’re interested in buying that property, you can enter the property to abate it,” said Kyser. “You’re more than welcome to do that under the good Samaritan law.”
As for Carolyn Patton, she’s tempted to cut her neighbor’s grass, but she’s concerned that will be just a band aid on the problem.
“We want to get the lawnmower out and cut it, but if we cut it, we know no one will ever address it,” said Patton.
Once the city sends a mowing bill to a property owner that address remains on a list where the city checks roughly every 30 days and will continue to mow.
The property owner will stay in that cycle until they come into compliance and any unpaid mowing bills may result in a lien on the property.
In the meantime, Carolyn Patton is concerned eyesore homes like her neighbors will hurt property values.
"If we want to think about moving, how are we going to be able to move and get full value with this, no matter how we keep the house up?” said Patton. “It makes me mad and angry. When they look at this, this is an eyesore."