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Foreclosed Homes A Problem During Hurricane Season

See the video and article below about foreclosed homes in Florida and hurricanes. Roy Oppenheim, a Florida foreclosure defense attorney, is quoted in both the article and video below. Read on for the full story.

While South Florida is in the midst of hurricane season, many residents want to know who is responsible for abandoned and foreclosed homes before a storm strikes.

Luis Callard is a West Miami-Dade resident who’s worried about all the abandoned and foreclosed houses in his neighborhood.

“No one lives there, and there’s stuff in the back yard,” he tells CBS4’s Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine. “What if a hurricane hits, with high winds?”

He’s not the only South Floridian who worries about that. With Florida among the national leaders in numbers of foreclosures, vacant homes and condos can be found in most neighborhoods. They’re no match for a hurricane.

Ron Szep of the Miami-Dade Building Department knows the problem.

“When the building is unsecured, when the wind can get inside that building, it will basically blow it apart. All the debris will be flying into your and your neighbors’ homes and cause severe damage.”

Szep says that’s the reason Miami-Dade County has a $200,000 program to board up abandoned homes.

So far, 120 of them have been secured, at an average cost of $3,000 each. The county eventually gets the money back by placing a lien on the property, which usually means the bank that foreclosed on the home pays the bill.

Chris Albury of the Miami-Dade Office of Neighborhood Compliance says it’s a good program, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

“On average, it takes about three months to get a house completely boarded up, from beginning to end,” explained Albury.

But in Broward County, there’s no coordinated countywide program to secure abandoned homes. Each municipality has its own building department, and concerned residents have to contact the right one.

So what if a hurricane is approaching, can you take matters into your own hands and secure that neighborhood eyesore?

Attorney Roy Oppenheim warns, “Legally, you can’t go onto private property.” But he adds, in an emergency, you may need to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do to keep safe. “You have to figure out what’s best for you and your family.”

The bottom line: It’s up to you to report abandoned and foreclosed homes to your homeowner’s association or your building department and have them clean up and secure those homes.

Read the full story about foreclosures and hurricanes on CBS4.com.

Tags: Al Sunshine, forclosure homes and hurricanes, foreclosed homes, foreclosures, Roy Oppenheim