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Substantial damage letter preventing couple from selling home

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BATON ROUGE - After flooding in 2016, Robin and Larry Kelly rebuilt their home in Centurion Place. Seven years later, they're getting ready to move out of state, but a letter is preventing the sale of their house from going through. With no where to turn they contacted 2 On Your Side.

The house is packed up in boxes.

"I was so excited to start a new life," Robin Kelly said.

In October, the Kellys put their Baton Rouge home up for sale and invested money in a property in Iowa. Their house sold quickly. Last Friday the couple got word from their realtor that the sale is in jeopardy because of an outstanding substantial damage determination letter. They received the notice in August 2022 along with 1,750 other property owners.

"Stating that we either need to raise the house, demolish the house, or sell it to the government," Robin said.

The letter came back to haunt them just before their closing and it's attached to their title documents. The couple thought they had appealed the determination in 2021. Larry remembers having conversations with the City-Parish, even answering questions via email. Now with time ticking they are days away from closing but the letter is preventing the sale from going through.

"It's just devastating because we can't move on from where we are now," Robin said.

Their Baton Rouge home flooded in 2016, but thankfully had full coverage through private insurance. Larry rebuilt the home quickly and the couple moved back in before the end of the year.

Neighbors are selling their properties and others are building nearby. The Kellys are the only ones they know of in their neighborhood who received a substantial damage determination letter.

While in limbo, a crew is working to make repairs to the house, taking care of projects the buyer requested. The movers will be by in a few days to pack up the house and take their belongings to Iowa.

"It's like, what do we do now? Do you call everybody and say never mind, cancel everything, then where are you? You're stuck," Robin said.

Stuck with their money invested in a house out of state and unsure about what to do.

The City-Parish confirms to 2 On Your Side that the Kellys did submit initial documentation to start the appeal process but other requested information was not received. The Kellys have been given another opportunity to submit the requested information for review.

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