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Ogontz House That Collapsed Had L&I, Tax Problems, City Official Says

By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The owner of the vacant house in Ogontz that collapsed last night had been cited numerous times by the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections.

And public records show property taxes haven’t been paid since 2008.

“The owner’s name is Sabrina Rush, as trustee for Mary Ellen and Karlan Rush,” according to L&I spokewoman Rebecca Swanson.  “She gained trusteeship in 2007, and immediately stopped taking care of the property.”

Swanson says L&I has cited the property, in the 6000 block of Ogontz Avenue, about six times since then, mostly for trash in the backyard.

In March 2010, Swanson says, L&I responded to concerns that the building may have been structurally unsafe.

“We went out, did a thorough inspection, and did not find any structural issues whatsoever,” she told KYW Newsradio today.

Swanson says each subsequent time that L&I responded to trash complaints, property maintenance inspectors saw nothing to indicate a potential structural issue.

And Swanson says that although L&I doesn’t investigate the causes of collapses, excessive snowfall — along with abrupt freeze-and-thaw cycles  — can speed the deterioration of  a vacant, blighted property.

Two men suffered minor injuries when the building collapsed (see previous story).

 

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