For the neighbors in Germantown — and in the spirit of the season — this is the ongoing story of the "Nightmare on Knox Street."
Earlier this month, a crew from the Department of Licenses & Inspections cleaned and sealed up the late-19th century house at 5357 Knox St.
It was the 11th time the city performed such work on the house.
There have been more than 20 court hearings since 2008 involving the property and its owner, according to the next-door neighbor.
In the most recent legal proceeding, a municipal court judge last summer fined the owner more than $36,000 for building-code violations.
The recent case brought by the city against the homeowner, Anthony Byrne, began with inspections in 2009, when he was cited for a wide variety of property maintenance violations, said Rebecca Corcoran Swanson, communications and policy officer for L&I.
In 2011, the property was designated unsafe because of structural issues.
Because the house was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1966 — it was built in 1871 and owned by Francis and Thomas Cope, members of the prominent merchant family — alteration of the exterior of the house must be approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission.