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No Maintenance Means Permissive ‘Waste’

A wife who made no repairs to a home the parties owned and which she has lived in during their 17-year separation is assessed a $26,000 devaluation in the property as permissive waste by a Roanoke County Circuit Court.

Wife’s expert appraiser, after viewing the premises in detail, described it as being very run down. He testified that a serious lack of maintenance had occurred over the years. On the exterior the rain gutters were filled with material and the siding was eroding away. He said the deteriorated state of the home affected its value, although he did not determine the value of the property if it had been maintained. He simply said wife had not maintained her home. Husband’s expert appraiser found wife’s residence to be in fair or minus fair condition. In addition to the deterioration and damage noted by wife’s expert, husband’s expert said the driveway was rutted and needed a loader to cut it out and a load of gravel;  there were termites or ants in the exterior siding of the house;  rotten wood existed in most of the areas depicted in the photos;  rotten wood was on the access to the back door and on the deck; the deck was pulled away from the steps; the roof needed repair or replacement; multiple broke light fixtures needed to be replaced;  serious water damage existed; the garage door was inoperable and had rot in it; and that it was the third or fourth worst deteriorated house he had ever seen.

He also testified that the house needed $26,000 in repairs to bring it back into good shape and that absolutely no preventive maintenance had been done on that residence for many years. The court finds that wife lived 17 years in a house that was in good shape when she moved in, and she simply allowed it to decay around her. Wife committed permissive waste.

Concerning the marital real estate, the court accepts the valuation by husband’s expert in the amount of $150,000 for the actual value of the Butternut Road residence. The court also accepts that expert’s opinion for the determination that lack of maintenance caused a $26,000 devaluation in wife’s residence. That is the amount of money necessary for the cost of repairs to correct the physical deterioration of the house and its concomitant reduction in value caused by wife’s neglect.

The court will use the current valuation date for the property, rather than the date when the parties separated 17 years ago, as husband requests.

The court values the Butternut Road property where wife resides at $150,000, with a $26,000 devaluation for necessary repairs due to wife’s waste of the property; $475,000 for the combined 63.1 acre tract where husband resides on Falwell Lane; and $700,000 for the .9 acre lot fronting on Dawnwood Road. This all totals $651,700. The court finds that each party should receive 50 percent of this value, or $325,850. The court fixes that amount as the monetary award to be paid by husband unto wife. Wife’s share will include the $26,000 devaluation of marital property caused by her permissive waste. The court deems her to have already received that $26,000. Husband may satisfy the monetary award in part by conveyance of the Butternut Road 3.96 acres in which wife resides directly to wife. The transfer will give husband a credit and leave a balance due wife of $149,850. The requirement for the parties’ divorce to be final is because equitable distribution, and any monetary award in furtherance thereof, can only be ordered after a final divorce has been granted.

Bell v. Bell (Doherty) No. CL 10-1312, Jan. 30, 2013; Roanoke County Cir.Ct.; Sharon Chickering, C. Richard Cranwell for the parties. VLW 013-8-010, 7 pp.

VLW 013-8-010

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