Homeowner wonders if new law will help make neighborhood safer after years of squatter issues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No one is supposed to live at 818 Wheeling Avenue, but several squatters do. One woman even has a water bill in her name registered to the address. 

The house is littered with trash. It hasn't been registered with the city since 2010. 

The property owners are an LLC so the city can't touch the house, a major problem that caused lawmakers to pass a law to hold these LLCs responsible.

Neighbor Bev Lavanga said the house attracts crime and people are constantly coming and going. 

She's suspected people connected to the house have stolen her property, but then her worst fear happened. 

"It's just a matter of time - obviously, they came into my house when I was gone," Lavanga said. 

41 Action News talked to her last year and she said the problem has gotten worse. Three weeks ago she came home and found an unknown woman standing in her bedroom.

"She was standing there and she had a green top of mine on a hanger and she was looking at it, and I'm looking at her and she's got one of my pink shorts on," Lavanga said. 

Lavanga said this woman went through her things, threw alcohol bottles everywhere, and was even doing laundry.

Lavanga said she recovered five bags of various men's and women's clothing items from the basement that did not belong to her. 

"It was like she was making herself comfortable there," said Lavanga. 

The LLC registration law passed last summer is supposed to protect neighborhoods from houses like 818 Wheeling. The law requires property owners to register the name and number of a real person every year.

As of now, there is still no name and number listed on the house, and the city hasn't been able to get to it because it has thousands of properties to get through. 

The city couldn't talk to us on camera, but said they haven't been able to find the person responsible for the property. The taxes have been delinquent five years, and will likely go up for auction on the courthouse steps in August or be funneled into the land bank. 

Another family who lives next door said they see drug activity going on and hear noise all throughout the night. 

"She would like someone to do about it. It's been years, it's frustrating," Eric said on behalf of his mother, who is constantly worried. 

They and Lavanga are left to wonder what crime will happen next. 

"Keep hoping that the house gets torn down or something," Lavanga said. 

The city had more than 20,000 unregistered properties in July 2016, and as of June this year, that number is down by about half. LLC owned properties are not separated and are a part of that number. 

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