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Code Enforcement News

News about code enforcement

Unmaintained Vacant Lots?

Posted by admin On November 23rd

We have an area where we are constantly opening new cases, cutting and cleaning private property lots for overgrowth that are not worth much money. We have fined and placed liens on these property’s but the owners are never heard from.  Years ago the city foreclosed on some of these property’s, but now the city can’t even keep up with cutting and cleaning their own property.   I am currently working on a spread sheet to calculate how much Tax Payer money has been used to do this and how much it will be projected to cost the city in the future.

I know we are not the only city facing this. My questions is – How do other city entities handle this problem?

Thank you for your time.

James Pogue

City of Ocala Code Enforcement Manager


6 Responses

  1. admin Says:

    Fort Myers actually has a one man Rapid Response Team that is responsible for Lot Mows, Board-ups, Clean-ups and Graffiti removal.
    Property owners that do not maintain their properties are sent invoices for any services provided; and if they are not paid, the invoices are recorded as liens against the property.
    Once the liens reach $10K or more, the cases are turned over to Legal for Foreclosure consideration.
    Foreclosed properties are then referred to Housing & Real Estate for redevelopment options.

    Often the unmaintained properties are sold through the tax certificate/deed process and we end up negotiating Conditional Releases of Liens for the buyers who are typically unaware of our liens when they purchased the tax deeds.
    We reduce the liens to hard costs IF the buyers are willing to commit to building a home that meets the affordable housing guidelines within two years.

    Yours in Public Service,

    Michael J. Titmuss

    Michael J. Titmuss – CEP & F.A.C.E. Past President
    Chief Code Enforcement Manager
    City of Fort Myers Community Development Dept

    Posted on November 23rd, 2020 at 8:31 am

  2. Brittany Kidd Gelm Says:

    Historically, the City of Longwood looks at vacant lots as “virgin” land and does not require a property owner to mow them. The City will mow the right-of-way if the grasses are sticking out, but other than that, we do not cite them.

    Posted on December 16th, 2020 at 9:23 am

  3. Lance Livingston Says:

    This has been a problem we have in Panama City with the same properties over and over. My question to Ft Myers,
    Do you clean and lien which avoids then hearing Process ?

    Posted on December 16th, 2020 at 1:23 pm

  4. admin Says:

    Yes we do – our Rapid Response Team Foreman abates the violations after initially mailing courtesy post cards to violators.

    Posted on December 18th, 2020 at 10:27 am

  5. matthew weidner Says:

    Attacking the vacant lot or blighted building problem quickly…and once and for all requires only that the municipality adopt an “Active Code Enforcement” effort. This means simply that rather than continuing to record liens…effort is made to obtain formal Service of Process over the owner, then demand all liens be paid and no new cases be established. Fort Myers and other municipalities are doing it…with great success. Particularly as we head into a new period of economic stress, adopting such a program right now is essential!

    Posted on December 23rd, 2020 at 11:45 am

  6. Maddie McDonald Says:

    the City of Rockledge has a maintenance ordinance which requires property owners to maintain the portion of his property abutting and within ten feet of any improved lot/parcel, sidewalk, street or bicycle path and free and clear of all fallen trees and maintain all untended vegetation, grass and undergrowth therein shall be cut to a height not exceeding of twelve (12) inches.

    this goes for residential and commercial properties

    This is under Rockledge Code of Ordinance 10-17.

    I have had very good luck with it. Should it be an absentee owner (have several of those too), I will post the property and the city does mow. I re-post with a notice of fine and if after 30 days the fine remains unpaid, I will file a lien.

    After doing this for about 2 years on a regular basis, I send the info to the city attorney to request the city look into foreclosing on the liens.

    It should be noted that if there is a vacant lot that abut major thoroughfares the city does mow the right of way / sidewalk areas regularly but does not do the 10-foot as required by code.

    Posted on December 23rd, 2020 at 12:43 pm

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