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Staten Island Family Banned From Using Own Backyard Due To Neighboring 'Zombie Home'

MIDLAND BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)-- A Staten Island family was ordered to stay off their own property and even threatened with jail time all because of a problem at their neighbor's home.

"I cannot use my grill. I cannot touch anything back here," homeowner Keri Mullin told CBS2's Brian Conybeare.

That includes her swimming pool on Moreland Street in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. The ban is all because a neighboring house damaged nearly four years ago by Superstorm Sandy was abandoned and is in danger of collapsing onto Mullin's property.

"I have a vacate order and buildings department violation on my door and I am being threatened with a $5,000 fine if I use my yard at all," Mullin said. "My own backyard!"

The city Department of Buildings issued a violation on the zombie home at 1178 Mason Avenue on Friday. The chimney is precariously tilting and its roof is in danger of collapsing.

"Now I'm back to that point where the storm is affecting me because somebody else didn't take care of their property," she said.

Neighbors like Thea Friscia said they have been trying to get the former owner or the city to do something about the rat and mold infested home for years.

"Three and a half years after Sandy and we are still suffering," Friscia said. "This is a devastating disgrace that it has come to this."

Mullin said she spent about $100,000 rebuilding after Sandy and even replaced the pool that was swept away by 13 feet of flood waters. Now she and her kids can't go near it or they could face a fine or even jail time. That's according to the vacate notice on their window that says in part, "the structure must be maintained in a code compliant manner." However, it's not her structure that's the problem.

"I was told specifically that the house needs to be completely taken down before I'm allowed to use my property again," she said.

CBS2 spoke to the former owner of the dilapidated house. She said she sold it to the New York state Sandy recovery buyout program in March. It's not clear when they will repair or demolish it.

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