Hoarding clear case of a bigger problem - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Hoarding clear case of a bigger problem

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Animal services called to a midtown Memphis home on Thursday described it as the worst case of animal hoarding they've ever handled.

Hundreds of animals ranging from dogs, cats, to raccoons and rodents were found both dead and alive inside 835 Stonewall St.

MORE: Animal hoarding to the extreme

The animals have been filling up the home since March.

But Memphis city officials say this is a clear case of a bigger problem - homes falling through the cracks after owners declare bankruptcy.

"Too many instances where mortgage company doesn't even bother to inspect the property, that is clearly the case here," said Onzie Horne, Deputy Director Public Works Division.

The property owner, Camille Stanley, moved out several months ago after she declared bankruptcy. Since then, animals and feces piled up in the home.

"When it rains, you know the wind just blows. You just smell it," said Tracy Blue, neighbor.

"The owner fell up on some hard times, couldn't keep up the house, and she surrendered house to bankruptcy court," added Horne. "There is no record of foreclosure."

The Stonewall Street property is an example of the growing number of defaulted homes which don't show up in the system, Horne said. Here's  how he says that happens: owners default on their mortgage, abandon their home, but then mortgage holders don't take legal action to take possession of the property.

When they avoid taking possession, maintenance costs fall on taxpayers.

"Over time many of these properties deteriorate to the point," Horne said. "The city has to bear the expense of demolition."

But the city hopes to establish a new foreclosure and default registry to help them reduce blight in neighborhoods. Under proposed changes to an ordinance,  mortgage holders would register properties, after the owner defaults, forecloses, or abandons it. Plus, property owners would need to supply the name of a person who's accountable for legal processes and services.

"I'm so glad someone's paying attention to what's going on," said Blue.

Violators of the ordinance could face a fine of up to $500 for each violation. As for this latest case, the city says they plan to take it to court.

The amendment applies to single family residential properties, including condominiums. Any money made from the fines, would go towards removing blight in the city.

The attorney for Stanley issued a statement saying his client left the home with no animals inside and is appalled the bank didn't take sufficient measures to secure the property.

The amendment still needs city council's vote.

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