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Attorney Rips Freddie Mac over Leaving Neighbors to Maintain Vacant, Mold-infested Home

mlive.com | August 17, 2014

The issues at 1053 Janet Ave. are nothing new in Ypsilanti Township.

The derelict and once unsecured home's grass is mowed by neighbors and the odor from a severe mold infestation is identifiable from the sidewalk.

And like multiple other homes the Ypsilanti Township Office of Community Standards tackled in recent years, its mortgage is now held by Freddie Mac, which officials say has neglected the property and let it deteriorate to a point that the township considers it a public nuisance and is asking a judge to order it secured and cleaned.

The condition also prompted Township Attorney Doug Winters to rip Freddie Mac in a letter to the company detailing issues at the 1,008-square-foot home and offer his thoughts on the failure to maintain or secure the property since it took over the mortgage in March 2013.

“This is absolutely unbelievable and even more egregious when one considers the United States taxpayers bailed out both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the tune of $187.4 billion! With all due respect, who (if not yourself) is in charge of maintaining this property?” Winters asked in the letter.

But a media representative for Freddie Mac claims the company doesn't own the property despite that a private title search and county and township records show that it does.

Winters noted that the water was left on for four months and a pipe burst, filling the entire basement with water, which led to a severe mold infestation.

After receiving an administrative search warrant to inspect the home on July 24, township building inspectors condemned the property for being unsanitary and unsafe to occupy.

Neighbors have been mowing the lawn and keeping an eye on the home, duties which Winters said the township would take over and bill Freddie Mac.

“This is your property and as such neither the township’s administrative staff nor the neighboring residents should have to take care of a property that is owned by Freddie Mac,” Winters wrote.

“This should be an embarrassment to everyone at Freddie Mac who has any
degree of responsibility and oversight of this property. Likewise the lack of
maintenance of this property constitutes a slap in the face to all taxpayers everywhere who bailed out both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” he continued.

Winters underscored the negative impact the property has on neighbors' health and property values, and wrote that the township planned to sue Freddie Mac in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.

“I wonder how long it would take Freddie Mac’s board of directors to take the appropriate action to remediate this property if someone on Freddie Mac’s board of directors were the unfortunate persons having to live next door and deal with this blighted property?” Winters asked.

Township records show the property has a market value of $66,000. The home sold for $135,000 in January 2005.

Township records also show the property was taken over after by The First Bank of Tennessee in March 2013 and immediately sold to Freddie Mac.

Brad German, a media representative for Freddie Mac, said the mortgage was transferred back to The First Bank of Tennessee in October 2013, despite that all public records and records from a private title search indicate otherwise.

When asked to produce the deed or proof that the title transfer occurred, German said he couldn't.

Winters said even if the home was only in Freddie Mac's control for seven months, it is still a "disgraceful" situation.

"Explain what you did from March until October," Winters said. "You still didn’t do anything from the time you owned it. I don’t know what kind of game they're playing."

He continued throwing a mortgage back and forth "like a hot potato" isn't an excuse for letting a property fall apart.

"If what Freddie Mac says is true, then it's probably even worse. 'Now you have it, now you don’t. Now I have it, I haven’t got it.' How long does that dance continue before someone takes responsibility?" Winters asked.

 

Back to August 2014 Archive

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