FOX 29 Investigates: Prospect Park Twin Home 'Imploding'

The foundation of his family home is crumbling into a heap. The walls are cracking and the floor is buckling. Now, he's been ordered to get out fast! What can he do about it? FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole has this report.

A local man is fighting to save his family home and, if he loses, he could see a wrecking ball at his home.

FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole has the story of Michael Nelling, who says he's watching his home fall apart!

In the family room of Nelling's Delaware County twin hangs a photo of his mom and dad.

The home at 810 Seventh Avenue in Prospect Park is Nelling's family home, and he's proud to own it.

"Many years spent here with nine brothers and sisters, you know what I mean? Lot of memories in the house," he said.

But there's trouble here, trouble with the very foundation of the attached homes that could lead to disaster.

"So, they've said they're worried about the house imploding, literally falling in?" Cole asked.

"Exactly. That's the terminology they used at the time, yes," Nelling said.

He says the bad times started in November when structural engineers inside the house next door delivered the stunning news: The foundation is collapsing, and the load-bearing wall the properties share is failing.

All of it's putting a heavy strain on the foundation of Nelling's home.

"See this crack here?" Nelling says, as he points to the side of his home. "That wasn't there six months ago."

The woman who lived next door is now gone after a foreclosure, with the property taken over by a bank.

Signs of trouble are everywhere.

"This just keeps getting wider and wider," Nelling said of one crack. They lace the walls and ceilings.

"Now, this area here seems to be sunken pretty bad, actually," he said of the floor between the living room and dining room.

And even some of the steps going upstairs are retreating.

Last fall, Nelling was told by the town to get out, fast!

"It looks like it actually could be dangerous," Cole said.

"Yes, that's why I guess they told me I had to move out, immediately," Nelling said.

"Whose fault is all this then?" Cole asked.

"I don't know, that's what I'm trying to figure out," Nelling replied.

Nelling says he's nearly at his wits' end because he's kicked out of his family home. And he's fearful because he still has a mortgage to pay, other expenses related to the place, plus taxes.

The Philadelphia International Airport worker says it was the stomach-turning problem he discovered behind a kitchen wall that was the final straw.

"It was sewage coming from that property," Nelling said.

"Next door, coming along the wall and going down?" Cole asked.

"Running through this wall here, you could actually see it when she would use her toilet," Nelling said.

What looks to be damage from that water flow can be seen on a basement wall.

"This is slowly but surely deteriorating and just falling off the wall entirely," Nelling said. "And I suspect it won't be long before maybe the stone itself starts to fall in, which I actually think it might be doing so."

He made a claim with his homeowner's insurance, Liberty Mutual, back in early February, but had not heard anything.

So, we called company headquarters in Boston, where a spokesperson said Nelling would soon hear from the company.

He did. His claim was "denied." He says he was told there was nothing in his policy covering structural and foundation damage.

A Liberty Mutual spokesperson told FOX 29 Investigates it does not comment on individual policies.

In the meantime, Nelling has stopped paying his mortgage so he can cover the rent on the apartment where he's now forced to live.

And he waits and worries about the future.

"You're left with what here?" Cole asked. "I mean, what are you supposed to do with this house?"

"I don't know," Nelling answered. "I don't know."

In a statement, the Borough of Prospect Park wrote both homes are uninhabitable, but it is willing to work with Nelling and others on repairs. It warns, though, if things grow worse, it may have to knock them down. The borough agreed to assist Nelling with getting a break on his taxes and to waive some inspection and permit fees.

Nelling has hired an attorney. He says he hopes to work something out with his insurer or the bank that controls the place next door. He says can't chalk up his family home as just a loss, Cole reported.

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