3 On Your Side

Update: Resolution reached in 'House of Horrors'

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Marielyn Almeida said she is happy with the mediation settlement after taking two realtors to court over her "house of horrors." (Source: 3TV) Marielyn Almeida said she is happy with the mediation settlement after taking two realtors to court over her "house of horrors." (Source: 3TV)
The specific details about this resolution should be revealed in the next weeks The specific details about this resolution should be revealed in the next weeks
The City of Glendale mailed the pictures to Almeida in June of last year telling Almeida that her home, at one time, was found to be in extremely unhealthful conditions due to animal hoarding and significant animal waste. (Source: 3TV) The City of Glendale mailed the pictures to Almeida in June of last year telling Almeida that her home, at one time, was found to be in extremely unhealthful conditions due to animal hoarding and significant animal waste. (Source: 3TV)
Almeida says she is extremely happy with the outcome. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Almeida says she is extremely happy with the outcome. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Marielyn Almeida can finally see the light regarding the nightmare she's had with her Glendale home.

"I am very happy. It's like a new life for me. I will begin zero, like this never happened," Almeida said.

She may be happy now, but that wasn't the case in January when she first spoke to 3 On Your Side.

“The house was sold to me like brand new nothing, ready to move in,” said Almeida.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Glendale woman unknowingly buys a 'house of horrors']

Almeida explained how she loved living in her home, that is until a few months ago when she discovered it was once a shocking house of horrors.

Disturbing photos were taken back in 2011, about five years before Almeida bought and moved into her house. The pictures depict a significant number of cats, along with animal feces and urine.

The City of Glendale mailed the pictures to Almeida in June of last year, along with a letter telling Almeida that her home, at one time, was found to be in extremely unhealthful conditions due to animal hoarding and significant animal waste. The City then made a demand. They told Almeida they now want to make sure her home is fit.

"They told me they have to open the walls and check if everything was done properly and they have to open up the walls in the restroom to check the electric because they did a lot of changes," she said.

According to documents from the City, the previous owner was notified by Glendale to "abate" the deplorable conditions. And if it wasn't done, the City said they had the authority to "demolish" the house. But Almeida says she never knew her home was the subject of a city investigation.

"Well, some people are telling me you're handling everything so well, but I was crying for the first few weeks a lot. I couldn't talk about the problem," said Almeida.

So, how did Almeida's home go from a terrifying sight to immaculate condition and why do Glendale officials now want to inspect her home?

Turns out, two Century 21 real estate agents purchased the home as an investment, cleaned it up and then sold it to Almeida.

According to Glendale, the realtors reportedly failed to get permits and that's why officials want to take apart Almeida's home to inspect it. When the two realtors failed to return 3 On Your Side's phone calls and emails, we went to their office for answers.

We were taken upstairs to speak with Rodica Bartels, one of the realtors who sold Almeida the home. She and John Crow, the other realtor, declined to talk to 3 On Your Side on camera. However, they did acknowledge buying and flipping the home as an investment.

They went on to say they had no knowledge of the cat hoarding situation. A statement from their attorney reads: “Mr. Crow and Ms. Bartel's [sic] had no knowledge of any code enforcement actions taken by the City prior to their ownership, in spite of performing multiple title searches during their ownership.”

Almeida filed a complaint in Maricopa Superior Court against the realtors. In her request to the court, Almeida asked for "compensatory, special, general and punitive damages." 

And in an interview with 3 On Your Side, Almeida said she would not be happy with any kind of resolution unless the realtors bought the house back from her.

"It was really stressful," she said.

Following 3 On Your Side's news report, the matter never made it to trial because it was settled through mediation.

An attorney representing the two realtors tells 3 On Your Side that "the matter is now resolved" but he declined to give any details. And a document filed with the court and obtained by 3 On Your Side also confirms "the parties resolved the matter," but again, no details were provided.

Still, Almeida says she is extremely happy with the outcome and 3 On Your Side's involvement.

"I believe it was like a great idea to contact you, probably I should have contacted you earlier at the beginning of the process. Everything went like really fast after I called you and I am happy with the result and especially I don't have to go to court. Nobody wants to deal with that," said Almeida.

The specific details about this resolution should be revealed in the next few weeks and when they are, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, Almeida says she is extremely happy with the outcome.

Below is a statement sent to 3 On Your Side 1/25/18 from the attorneys representing the Century 21 realtors

"The parties have come to understand that there were no public documents recorded by the City at the time my clients originally purchased the home and that my clients did not know of the City’s pre-existing concern.  The matter is now resolved."

Below is a statement sent to 3 On Your Side on 1/29/18 from the City of Glendale regarding permits that were not issued

The city has many publicly available documents regarding (address redacted)... including police records and Building Safety's notes from when the city first addressed issues at that property. These have been and are available for viewing via a public records request.

When the city initially acted to address the unsafe, imminent, conditions at this property, staff notified the owner of record of the concerns and the required corrective actions.  At that time, the city was not required to record that documentation with Maricopa County per the adopted International Building Code (IBC). City codes have since been updated and we do record documents declaring unsafe, imminent, conditions with Maricopa County.

The construction work done at this property, since the city informed the owner of the unsafe conditions, did require building permits per the International Building Code's Section 105.1. The required building permits for the work were not obtained. Had someone come in to secure the required building permits for work being done at (address redacted)  they would have been made aware of the city's declaration associated with the property and learned of the required steps to abate the imminently unsafe conditions.

Below is a statement sent to 3 On Your Side on 1/17/18 from the Arizona Department of Real Estate

“Buyers should always do their due diligence by reviewing the contract, performing any inspections necessary, and reviewing the preliminary title report provided by the title company before close of escrow. Consumers should ask their licensed real estate professional to assist them to find answers to any questions the consumer may have.”

Buyers should always confirm they are working with an Arizona real estate license professional.

Resources a buyer may wish to contact include:

The County Assessor’s Office and the County Recorder’s Office for basic information on the property

  • Health Department  
  • Animal  Control
  • City Code Enforcement
  • Arizona Registrar of Contractors, to check licensed contractor status
  • Homeowners Association

Below is information sent to 3 On Your Side on 1/12/18 from the Arizona Association of REALTORS

"....the public can research building permits on specific parcels of land in Maricopa County.  https://www.maricopa.gov/4231/Permit-Research & https://www.maricopa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4509. The website obviously shows the existence of permits, but not the lack of permits. However, if you know that the prior owners added a room in 2015 and there are no permits showing for that year, prospective buyers could deduce that no permits were pulled."

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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