Neighbors deal with messy aftermath of home foreclosure

Neighbors deal with messy aftermath of home foreclosure »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Neighbors are not happy about a house in foreclosure, with junk and trash piled up in the front yard for months. They want somebody to clean it up.

It turns out the house was bought by an investment company, and company officials promise fast action, even with a mess this big.

"We can get this cleaned up in one day," Preet Bhathal told Eyewitness News on Monday. He said this was the deadline for the current residents to be out of the house, and his company will now move quickly.

The small, white house is in the 3100 block of Apollo Street in northeast Bakersfield. Several large piles of stuff sit on the driveway.

"All of the trash blowing down the street, every day we're out here picking up the trash," neighbor Mark Abonnel said. "And the kids coming and going through the trash right now. You don't want any kids getting anything from it."

Neighbor Steve Carpenter has similar concerns. "It brings down the neighborhood," he said. "It's just really bad. A huge eyesore."

Both men said things have gotten much worse in the past couple months, and they don't know why. They also don't know the people who lived there, but assumed the house had gone into foreclosure.

Eyewitness News checked with county records, and found the bank-owned house had just been purchased by a AP Real Estate Holdings. It's a local company, spokesman Preet Bhathal said.

"We were aware people weren't taking care of the property," Bhathal said. He said the company bought this property at a trustee auction almost two months ago. Bhathal said since that time, the company's had to work through the eviction process -- which can take 45 days or more.

He said AP Real Estate took possession of the house on October 1, and the current residents had 15 days to remove their possessions. That meant Monday was the first day his company could take any action about the huge mess.

Bhathal met with the concerned neighbors, and told Eyewitness News his company's ready to start fixing up the house.

"We're hoping tomorrow we're going to get our people in here and get all the trash hauled away," Bhathal said Monday afternoon.

About 30 minutes earlier, a car had stopped in front of the house. A woman went into the garage, but left without taking anything. The woman and the man driving wouldn't answer a reporter's questions.

Neighbors believed all the stuff on the driveway had come out of the house. Bhathal took a reporter inside, and said most of the rooms had been packed to the ceiling. But, he said the house could be renovated fairly quickly.

His company fixes up foreclosed houses for re-sale, and they get them "FHA ready," but it doesn't take that long. "At least usually three weeks," Bhathal said. "And depending on the conditions, sometimes it takes $10,000 to $15,000."

Bhathal said his company flips houses, and sells them to first-time home-buyers. He said it's a good strategy for investors.

"Comparatively, it's providing comparable returns, similar to if you were to invest in the stock market or if you were to buy rentals," Bhathal said. He added his company started up two years ago, and there are other similar businesses in the area.

Bhathal said Bakersfield Code Enforcement is aware of the conditions at the house, and his company will work with city officials.

But, it turns out code officers are also working on a similar situation at the house right next door. Neighbors had photos of piles of junk in that driveway, but said on Monday morning somebody showed up and tossed the stuff over the wall onto the driveway of the house AP Real Estate has just purchased.

"I'm not aware of that situation," Bhathal said. Eyewitness News talked to a man in front of that house, who was watering with a garden hose. He said he had no information on what was happening there, and a reporter asked him to contact the home-owner. So far we haven't heard back.

Eyewitness News will keep checking with code enforcement on that situation, and check back with Bhathal about it.

Bhathal promised to work on cleaning up the property they acquired, and hoped the neighbors will work with his company. "It helps when the neighbors really are taking an interest," Bhathal said. "It helps everyone."