Company Demolishes Woman’s Home on Accident and Then Tries to Fine Her for the Mess

By: Lauren | Published: Feb 18, 2024

In an almost unbelievable turn of events, one woman from Atlanta, Georgia, returned from vacation to find her home had been completely demolished.

Then, nearly two months after the tragic error by the demolition company, the city of Atlanta left a notice that they were fining her for not filing the correct paperwork for the demolition that she never wanted in the first place.

Receiving a Strange Phone Call on Vacation

Susan Hodgson was reportedly on vacation when she received a phone call from her neighbor. The neighbor asked Hodgson if she had hired someone to demolish the home as she hadn’t used it in over a decade, to which Hodgson replied vehemently: No.

Woman is speaking on the phone while at the beach

Source: Freepik

Hodgson later told the press that her neighbor went over to confront the team tearing down her friend’s house and that “[they] told her to shut up and mind her own business.”


The House Hadn’t Been Used in 15 Years

It’s important to note that none of Hodgson’s personal belongings were inside the home when it was demolished, as she hadn’t used the house in 15 years.

A boarded-up home in a suburban neighborhood

Source: iStock

She explained to the press that it was completely boarded up, but that didn’t mean she wanted to get rid of the entire house.

Hodgson Kept Good Care of the Unused Home

Hodgson also told the media that she made sure the grass was cut regularly and that the yard was clean of any trash or debris in order to keep her neighbors happy.

Person calculating taxes for their home with a piece of paper and a calculator

Source: Freepik

The homeowner also verified that taxes on the home had all been paid. So, while it was technically boarded up, it certainly was not abandoned.

How Does a Mistake Like This Get Made?

Of course, upon returning from her vacation, Hodgson immediately notified the local police that a company called “You Call It We Haul It” had torn down her home without authorization.

Large truck with the logo for the company “You Call It We Haul It” on the side

Source: @YouCallItWeHaulIt/Facebook

But Hodgson said the company has yet to respond to any of her or the police’s phone calls to explain how something like this could happen. She said, “It’s just hard to believe someone thinks they have the right to just come and tear something up and walk away from it and didn’t come back and say, ‘I’m sorry. What do I need to do to fix this? It was an accident.’ They didn’t give me nothing.”

Two Months Later, It Got Worse

While having someone accidentally destroy your home is quite possibly one of the worst things that can happen to a person, that wasn’t the end of Hodgson’s troubles.

Photograph of Susan Hodgson’s home, which was demolished without her permission

Source: @Fox5Atlanta/YouTube

Nearly two months later, Hodgson was still waiting for insurance, the police, or really anyone to tell her how to proceed when she received a horrific notice from the city of Atlanta.


The City Was Fining Her for Demolishing without a Permit

Hodgson reported that she was walking around the remains of her house, picking up trash from the yard, when she saw a large yellow notice sign.

Photograph of Susan Hodgson’s home, which was demolished without her permission

Source: @Fox5Atlanta/YouTube

The notice said: “Stop Work Order” and that Hodgson had only a few days “to fix it, clean it up, and get it all done, and have the proper permits.”


The City of Atlanta Rescinded the Citation… For Now

Hodsgon immediately contacted the local authorities and explained the situation. The Department of City Planning for Atlanta then proceeded to release a statement to the press regarding the Hodsgon property.

Example of a Stop Work Order notice from a city planning department

Source: Flickr

They wrote, “The correction notice affords the property owner the opportunity to bring the property into compliance. No citation has been issued to date.” However, that doesn’t mean a citation isn’t coming.


It’s Still Hodsgon’s Responsibility to Clean Up the Mess

The statement continued, “The structure on the property was demolished without a permit which is a violation of city code. The property owner is responsible for their property and for any violations that occur pertaining to that property.”

Photograph of Susan Hodgson’s home, which was demolished without her permission

Source: @Fox5Atlanta/YouTube

Meaning that while the city seems to be giving Hodgson a little more time to clean her property of the debris, it is technically still her responsibility to do so.


This Is Not a Government Issue

The Department of City Planning statement then said, “The demolition of the property without the owner’s consent or knowledge is not a matter for the City of Atlanta. This is considered a civil matter between the property owner and the alleged responsible party.”

Black and white logo of the Atlanta Department of City Planning

Source: Atlanta Department of City Planning

They’re essentially washing their hands of the issue and forcing Hodgson to pay for expensive lawyers in order to prosecute the company that illegally destroyed her home if she hopes to get any money for her loss.


Many People Responded Negatively to Hodgson’s Situation

When her story went viral in October, people all over the city and the world responded. Some, of course, expressed words of frustration and concern for Hodgson, but others weren’t as sympathetic. Many said that a home boarded up for 15 years should definitely have been torn down.

A suburban neighborhood with rows of houses and yards

Source: Shutterstock

Hodgson told Fox News, “I get what they are saying. I get that the house was boarded up, and people probably would love to have it down. That’s fine, but he didn’t have permission to do it. That’s the problem.”


Hodgson Is Trying Her Best to Handle the Situation Alone

Sadly, Susan Hodgson’s husband died several years ago, and she has reported that it’s been incredibly challenging and truly demoralizing to try to handle this situation all by herself.

Older woman sitting in a chair by the window talking on the phone

Source: Freepik

And after spending months on the phone with the police, lawyers, the city, and the company that took down her home without consent, she still has no idea what’s going to happen next.