Gary M. Singer
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel

Q: The empty condominium next to mine is now owned by a lender. I donít have a contact number for someone at the bank. I am concerned that the property is not being cared for, and anyone can break in and vandalize it. Or the water heater will burst and flood me out. What can I do?

A: You have found yourself in an increasingly common situation in which the foreclosing lender does not properly care for a property. The lender now is responsible for securing and maintaining it and also liable for any damages caused to others.

I would put the lender on written notice by sending a letter via certified mail, addressed to the bank president at the corporate office. You should be able to find the address online. Your condo association may be able to help make sure that the property is safely secured and may be able to legally compel the lender to fix any dangerous situation. You also may want to contact your cityís code enforcement office if you feel there is a violation of any ordinances.

A more difficult problem is one in which the bank has not yet completed the foreclosure or is dragging its feet in doing so. In that case, the property still is owned by the person who walked away from it, so the bank is limited in what it can do. But I still would put the bank on notice and also request that your condo associationís attorney take steps to expedite the foreclosure process.