Who’s Responsible for Deadbeat Property Owners?

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Who is responsible for property that is for sale/in foreclosure and/or up for a short sale?

The property next to my home has been on the market for years now. Every spring, the dates from the big tree that is on that property fall by the hundreds on to my patio and in my flower beds. This spring the dry palm fronds were not trimmed, nor were the huge clusters of dates removed. The owner did not respond to a request for trimming. I’ve seen rats run down the tree onto my fence, and one of the tenants on the property had them running past her front door. Dried fronds have been hanging over the chimney on the top of the back apartment.

I called the listing agent at Coldwell Banker to see if she could contact the owner to deal with this situation.  The day of the big rain this week, several 12- to 15-foot fronds fell into my patio, along with more date pods. I was told that the owner wasn’t interested in keeping up the property (although he still collects rent from his tenants), that the bank was in charge now and that Coldwell Banker couldn’t do anything since they are not property managers.

So…just who is responsible for this property? Is there a city or county department that can enforce any applicable codes relating to this type of situation? Fortunately, no one was in the patio to get whacked on the head when the fronds fell, and they are heavy with the potential for physical harm. The mess is still there, a safety hazard and a fire hazard. I sense that I am not the only property owner in Laguna faced with a similar dilemma. Would love an answer!

Carole Zavala, Laguna Beach


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