You’ve probably seen it: the dilapidated house with the boarded-up windows and the warning sign on the door. The property has been condemned. But, have you ever wondered how a property ended up in that condition or what can be done with such a property?
What Is a Condemned House?
A house can become condemned if it is unsafe or uninhabitable. This usually happens when a house has significant structural damage or has been neglected for a long period of time. For example, if a house is damaged by a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane, it can become condemned if the damage is severe enough.
If there are occupants living in the house at the time it is condemned, they will need to move and cannot return unless necessary renovations are made to the house to address the reasons it was condemned.
Or if a house is abandoned and left to rot, it can become condemned due to mold, infestations, and other hazards. Condemned houses can have serious risks to the health and safety of people who live in them. They are often unsafe to enter and can be a danger to the surrounding community. To protect people from these risks, cities and municipalities will sometimes condemn houses and order them to be demolished.
Fun fact: In some cities, abandoned homes are being replaced with tiny homes and tiny villages to help address the homeless crisis.
If homeowners make all the necessary repairs, the house can usually be removed from condemned status.
Why Would a House Become Condemned?
Usually, a house is condemned because of repeated housing code violations over the safety of the building. A house may be abandoned for a certain amount of time and pose a safety risk.
But not all properties become condemned because they were left vacant. Sometimes the owner has decided to renovate the house, and an inspector later finds one or more serious violations.
Permits may be missing or not displayed correctly. Work being done on it may not be up to code or an inspector may deem conditions unsafe.
There are other reasons properties become condemned. Some houses are condemned due to a lack of sanitary living conditions.
This could occur if the plumbing is not working or the home is allowed to accumulate so much clutter as to cause infestations. Houses can also be condemned due to the presence of black mold or because they have undergone significant structural damage.
A property can be condemned for other reasons as well. For example, the governing entity may have determined that the street needs to be expanded or perhaps there are plans for some other public improvement or facility.
When this occurs, the house can actually be seized by the government, even if there are no violations. This is known as eminent domain. In these cases, the owner is compensated for the property at current market value.
What Happens to Condemned Houses?
If you own a condemned house, your possession is seized by the government. Owners and other occupants are forced to leave immediately and condemned signs warning that the dwelling is unfit for anyone to live in are posted in a public spot, usually on the front door.
The government may then order the house’s owner to either make necessary repairs to bring the house back to good standing. If an owner refuses to make repairs or the house is irreparable, the government may force the owner to have the house demolished at his or her expense.
Condemned houses often attract squatters, trespassers, and vandals. As a homeowner, any of these unwelcome visitors would be bad news and could seriously impact your ability to get your property back up to par.
Can You Live in a Condemned House?
Living in a condemned house may not sound ideal, but could you, if you really wanted to? The answer may vary state to state, but typically the answer is no.
When a home is condemned, the owner or tenant will be notified by a letter that they are either required to make all necessary repairs or they must vacate the home. A sign is attached to the building that states the building is no longer fit for human inhabitation.
A condemned property may be winterized to protect against damage caused by frozen water pipes or poorly managed utilities. The government may cut the gas, shut off the power, and drain plumbing fixtures and water pipes.
Laws aside, attempting to live in a condemned house will more than likely put the inhabitant in harm’s way. Depending on the condition of the house and needed repairs, the house itself could cave in.
This would put the city at risk of liability issues, that they don’t want to deal with. Failing to comply, often results in fines or worse.
Unfortunately, there are recorded cases of individuals remaining unwilling to leave their condemned homes. Check out this news story from Dallas,TX.
Can You Sell a Condemned House?
Typically, a condemned property cannot be sold as a structure. The property can usually still be sold as land, though the value is actually reduced due to the buyer expense of tearing down the condemned house and hauling it away, making it difficult for a buyer to get a mortgage loan. In some circumstances, you may also be able to find a buyer with a hard money lender to back them up.
But by far, your best option is to sell the property quickly, before the structure becomes officially condemned and you lose control of what happens to it. HomeGo buys houses in any condition and offers you a same-day cash offer without ever needing to make repairs. Move out and move on before your home is officially condemned.