FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Beer bottles and debris litter the lawn in front of a vacant home in Ft. Lauderdale, its windows covered by white boards.
Now a Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness is under fire for letting the property become an eyesore.
Holness, a licensed real estate broker, acquired the home back through his real estate firm in 2003 from its owner, Henry Eccleston in 2003, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Eccleston, who was facing foreclosure, transferred the title of the home in the 2000 block of NW 28th Avenue to Holness. The process is known as a “quit claim” deed and it allowed Holness to retain the mortgage.
Holness said the deal was meant to help Eccelston restore his credit rating. He reportedly paid $10,000 for the property, but Eccleston said he received just over $2,000. Holness told the paper the rest of the money was used to bring the mortgage payments up to date and for other fees to keep it from the auction block.
In the ensuing years, the property remained had a few tenants and but was left empty. It fell into disrepair, vandalized and cited numerous times for code violations. Currently, there are $6,000 in fines levied against the property.
In 2009, mortgage payments stopped coming for the property and foreclosure action was taken against Eccleston. Holness was also named in the complaint.
Last year, Holness deeded the property back to Eccelston.
The commissioner said he is just like any other property owner who struggled to remain their homes during a recession.
“It was not always paid attention to,” Holness told the paper. “Once the vandalism occurred, it was kind of difficult to manage.”
Holness said he doesn’t have the estimated $30,000 it would take to repair the house so he’s working to line up an investor to buy it, probably for about $20,000.
The Sun-Sentinel contributed to this report.