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Lenders abandon foreclosures; 'Walkaway' properties quickly deteriorate

Rodney Lass figured his days as a homeowner were over when he was hit with a foreclosure judgment more than a year ago.

He stopped rehabbing his two-story Bay View home and moved on.

But what Lass didn't realize until recently is that the house remains in his name today.

He's still responsible for the taxes, upkeep of the property and the mortgage, leaving Lass perplexed.

"Why would I pay for something that I don't own anymore?" Lass said.

The foreclosure, however, failed to go through after the California-based lender decided it didn't want the gutted house. Lass said he found out for certain that he still owned it from the Journal Sentinel.

Today, the house at 703 E. Lincoln Ave. sits condemned, holes in its roof, a blight on the working-class neighborhood.

The home represents a growing phenomenon known as walkaways -- properties for which lenders sue for foreclosure but never take the title.