Notes from Saturday night late.
My niece was over and we were watching CNN. They had an emergency news flash showing South Korea's financial crisis. Then CNN showed short clips of Switzerland, Germany and France as the latest countries also facing financial crisis. I had chills run up my spine watching what was unfolding. THIS IS GLOBAL! If that wasn't bad enough I went to my computer and did a search on the number of empty houses in Euclid. I found this story (Please note the date, 2007, its FAR worse now): http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/us/23vacant.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5090&en=69466b54a5e12704&ex=1332302400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
You know what, go grab a cup of coffee this is going to be lengthy, Carey is just going to lay it out there of what is the latest with my situation with Euclid which now they say they will press criminal actions against me, thats what you get for investing in a city such as I have.
A quick review. When this whole thing initially started with Euclid in May my business completely tanked. At first I was embarrassed about my financial situation but judging by what is happening I am not alone. In '03 my credit rating was above 800 and I received a loan to buy the second house as easy as going to the store to buy chips. And I can't blame myself for accounts going out of business either, such as Bennigans. Another account said its nothing personal but we need to cut back on all buying, please check back in January. How did I survive? Credit card, savings, sharing expenses with the folks and my two rentals paid the three loans.
If that wasn't bad enough in May I get the surprise letter from Euclid stating $1,000.00 fine and up to six months in jail if I don't register the houses as rentals at $200.00 each, social security numbers of tenants, and mandatory inside inspection.
I immediately wrote a letter to the Mayor asking for assistance and help. Still have a copy if you like to read it again. The tone was strictly a plea for help and understanding. What did the mayor say? Pay they don't play, we could charge you more and maybe you should raise your rent. Thats when I sent out the second letter and not to be a smart ass but as another plea and also included my house insurance bill. Who wouldn't freak facing the penalty Euclid wants to hand down? Furthermore, they wanted me to pay $400 when I can't even pay my bills. Since then I've had to cancel the house insurance.
What happened next is Euclid issued a yard violation. Thats what you get for asking for help and challenging the system in a proper manner. I then contacted Councilman Van Ho and he met with me at the Crystal house along with my friend/tenant at the time. Councilman Van Ho was also beside himself as were my friends and said this has to be a mistake. My tenant/friend who had a landscaper maintain the yard said "now I am insulted". It took him less than two months from that violation to tell me sorry I just want out of Euclid.
I spoke with someone who is running for State Representative and he said speak with Councilman Langman. Shortly after that I received another notice of violation non-compliance which I thought was for the windows. I had both Concilman Langman and Van Ho over to show them the house. Both agreed the house is fine even though I pointed out that yes the place needs windows to which Councilman Van Ho laughed and said show me a house that doesn't need windows in Euclid, these houses are old. Councilman Van Ho said that the city will be meeting with realtors to find out why houses aren't selling in Euclid. To that I answered this is more than white flight, people do not want such a restrictive government, people want to be left alone. He added, Yes I have heard that before. Both councilmen said they would talk with Kelly Sweeney Assistant Director of Law and advised me please talk with her to see what can be worked out.
It was then I contacted an attorney. He said they can't make such demands I will look into it but he thought they were just making noise to lay low and no more writing about this situation and maybe they will forget about me.
I received a summons for October 6Th, so much for laying low, which I did not appear as I thought the above mentioned attorney would handle it. He turned out to be a total disaster and instead of advising me privately he capitulated. I was issued a new summons for this coming Monday the 27Th.
So that gets us up to date. What am I expecting or wish to come out of this? Many things but the biggest is to raise awarnes how local governments can come in and completely wipe you out if they so desire with little to no recourse which I why I have sent out email after email to showcase my story. If Euclid forces me into bankruptcy, jail and or selling my properties I will make it known from the local paper all the way to CNN. Furthermore, I am just beside myself that any level of government can make demands to enter your property with out probable cause such as multiple police calls to the residence, neighbor complaints to name a few.
Many questions are raised but all of this could of been averted when I initially contacted Mayor Cervenik. Call me naive or ignorant but I had NO clue Euclid had such rules concerning rentals. Did the bank advice me, did the realtor, did I receive any letter from Euclid other than the one from May of this year? NOPE! How is a person suppose to know such rules exist if they are not informed and if I was informed I would never of bought my second house in Euclid. Since it was Euclid's fault for not making it public and I have owned the house on Priday since 1993 and the one on Crystal since 2003 I should be grandfathered in OR until the current tenants move out. Especially considering the gentleman residing at Priday has been there since March, 1999. Now Euclid demands entry into my tenant/friends residence after almost 10 years! You pay property tax, income tax, and now this fee? Where will it end?
In all the conversations I had with members of the Euclid government and and read articles and notices sent to me they mention maintaining housing stock. They don't get it. Maintaining housing stock? There is about 1,000 empty houses with 400 in foreclosure. House values are falling ridiculously low. What are they doing to make Euclid business friendly? The neighbors house across the street from my property on Priday has been empty for 3 years. Where did Don flee to? The suburbs of Lake County as did many of my other friends. The mayor has to realize, as Councilman Van Ho brought up, these houses in Euclid are old. You maintain them the best you can but they will never look like a new subdivision from 2000. This is way more than white flight. People do like to live fearful of a government that threatens and harasses. The mayor is trying to maintain housing stock, so is it better now that my story has reached countless people and blogs? Is
it better now that my house on Crystal Ave. sits empty because of their meddling? Is it better that
I may face jail and fines instead of trying to find a tenant for my house?
As both councilman told me speak with Kelly Sweeney and see what you can work out. I did as did the lawyer I hired and dismissed. He said they would accept $75 registration since I have had the property so long and it would be done. I thought we had a compromise worked out. When I called Kelly either she reneged or my lawyer misunderstood her but which ever things changed back to her original demands. I was willing to pay the $75 as long as they stay out of my tenants house. To that I received an emphatic NO and Kelley then raised the fee back to $200.00.
Euclid is dieing, people are fleeing the city. I am doing all I can to stay and run a business, which is what rental property is. So much for a compromise.
I bought the house on Crystal in 2003 for $67,900.00. In 2006 it was valued at $58,100, now who knows. What is Euclid doing to secure and stabilize my investment? They need to back off to infuse much needed new money and investment in the city. Mayor Cervenik PLEASE fill up these houses!!! You want to do something? Go speak to the residents and tenants who want out, as Councilman Van Ho was suppose to do with my tenant living in the Crystal residence but didn't. You need to build up public relations. I don't care how you do it, knock on doors hand out coupons to area businesses, have an open house at city hall to meet and greet all members of council, but I know where to start rescind laws that are forcing people to flea even if its temporary, the bleeding needs to stop.
As for my current situation how am I paying the loans? I have until the end of March and then I am done if things don't change. A very very close friend of mine has stepped in and said Carey, if this will help you I will pay your one loan until spring, this should buy you enough time hopefully to correct your ship. And thats all I am trying to do right now, buy time. Because with Euclid's demands, falling house value, barely making ends meet I may join the ranks and be number 401 on Euclid's list of foreclosure. Mayor Cervenik and Euclid, do the right thing.