Woman says she wasn't told her late mother's home demolished

East Knoxville woman says she wasn't told her late mother's home would be demolished

Posted:
Angela Redmond pointed out where her mother's house used to be on this now-vacant lot. Angela Redmond pointed out where her mother's house used to be on this now-vacant lot.
"You would never have known there was a nice home here," said Angela Redmond. "You would never have known there was a nice home here," said Angela Redmond.
Records show the order of demolition was sent to Redmond and to her mother before she died. Records show the order of demolition was sent to Redmond and to her mother before she died.
"I have documentation that we attempted to notify the owner on multiple occasions," said David Brace. "I have documentation that we attempted to notify the owner on multiple occasions," said David Brace.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In many East Tennessee cities and communities, homes fall into disrepair. When a complaint is lodged, building officials look into it, but the legal process may take years before action is taken. 

A Knoxville woman came to 6 On Your Side saying she was unaware her mother's house would be torn down.

It's been an emotional time for her.

In Knoxville, the order to demolish a home ruled a public nuisance or danger can sometimes take years.

The city's tough legal regulations have to be followed before a final demolition order is issued, and that process is mirrored in many other communities.

The demolition of a home earlier this month caught the daughter of the homeowner off guard, but it shouldn't have.

We took Angela Redmond to the East Knoxville home where she grew up. She hadn't seen the place in a year.

"It's unbelievable. There used to be a little house up here. Then the big house was here," she described as she walked along the now vacant property. "It's all gone. Everything is gone."

Her childhood home, owned by her late mother, was demolished by the city and everything inside was removed earlier this month.

"You would never have known there was a nice home here," said Redmond.

She says her grandfather built the home, 3900 Lilac Avenue, about 90 years ago,  Redmond moved away in the early 1970's.

Angela said her mother last lived there five years ago before moving to a nursing home.

"My mother had just passed away in November and they never sent me any notification that they were going to come in and destroy and take away everything," Redmond said.

We took our questions about the home to David Brace, the city's public service department director.

He showed us the September 2013 work order and the court order to tear the house down.

"You can see I signed off on it on September 2, 2013, okay to demo," he said. "It's not like we're going to come out and [instantly] demolish it."

City records showed in August 2012, a warning sign that declared the house "unfit for human occupation" was posted on the home.

Brace says neither Mrs. Redmond nor her mother showed up at a June 2012 hearing discussing possible demolition.

"I have documentation that we attempted to notify the owner on multiple occasions," said Brace.

The property also came to the attention of other city departments.

Delinquent property tax bills for her mother's home were sent to Mrs. Redmond, amounting to two years of back taxes amount to $450.

Redmond believed her mother would handle the notices.

"I didn't have the money and I could not sell her home or any of the property because it was in life estate," she said.

Redmond said she had no legal authority over the house.

In simple terms, a life estate is the ownership of land for the duration of a person's life. Her mother died in late November.

"I felt like I could not go in there without my mother's permission," said Redmond, adding that her mother would not have given her permission.

So earlier this month, the home was leveled and personal belongings thrown away.

"Who got it and why? Why didn't they let me know?" asked Redmond.

Records show the order of demolition was sent to Redmond and to her mother before she died.

Brace says Redmond could have removed belongings at any time, especially after her mother's death.

"We are not aware of what [the possessions] are. We go in and demolish the building. They're at the landfill," said Brace.

In the city of Knoxville, the Better Building Board issues complaints to property owners regarding structures that may be unfit or dangerous.

After a public hearing three days ago, the city ordered 10 structures to be boarded up and there was a hearing on another 15 structures.

If a property owner doesn't show or no one represents the property, under city code, the structure can be demolished and the bill sent to the owner or their heirs.

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