Q&A – Code Violations & Activist Florida Governments

Today’s entry

Here are a couple of notes I received after discussing the case of Jim Ficken’s pending foreclosure in Dunedin.

The topic of Excessive Fines is an issue that I have experienced and been involved with for 12 plus years and have an interest in keeping Florida a welcoming state that upholds our property rights and other Constitutional Rights.

Supreme Court limits the power of states and localities to impose fines seize property.

After a unanimous decision issued by the US Supreme Court it upheld that the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution applies to States and local municipalities. The extreme enforcement measures of Code Enforcement Agencies regarding fines of these magnitudes that even may lead to foreclosure proceedings are excessive.

For governmental bureaucracies to take people's property with what I view as legalized thievery and utilizing our taxpayer dollars and resources to ultimately usurp our Rights and Property is unjust.

Subsequent for property owners to need to hire legal representation to comprehend Rules that negate our rights; whereas, legal fees and costs sometimes exceed the fines itself is excessive. Not a lot of Citizens have these resources at their disposal. 

All Jim has to do is file a Florida State at 222.01, designation of Homestead. This designation of Homestead not affiliated with homestead exemption for taxing purposes will stop the city dead in its tracks from being able to foreclose on his house, also Florida provides that for first Offense Code Enforcement may only assess $250 a day to a total of $5,000 which means the city is in violation, I've been through this issue and I beat them on both counts.

Bottom Line: Ashley and I both commented on how unfortunate it would be, to be in a similar circumstance without the ability to adequately defend yourself. Also, perhaps you’re right that if one of these cases reached the federal courts, it would potentially amend some of Florida’s existing laws pertaining to code violations, fines, and foreclosures. But until and unless that happens, this is where I’ll pick up on the 2nd note I cited.

Property taxes are maintained but it wouldn’t work in this case. Liens imposed by local governments against property act like mortgages and the designation of homestead specifically states that it doesn’t apply to liens. Here’s the actual language: This subsection shall not act to prohibit a lien from attaching to the real property described in the notice of homestead at such time as the property loses its homestead status.

If liens aren’t paid, the property may be foreclosed to repay the lien. That’s why Jim Ficken is in the situation he’s currently in. But to your other point regarding code violations, there are two different tiers of fines that may be imposed under Florida law based on the size of the municipality.

If the population is under 50,000 - A fine imposed pursuant to this section shall not exceed $250 per day for a first violation and shall not exceed $500 per day for a repeat violation, and, in addition, may include all costs of repairs pursuant to subsection (1). However, if a code enforcement board finds the violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature, it may impose a fine not to exceed $5,000 per violation.

If the population is over 50,000 - Such fines shall not exceed $1,000 per day per violation for a first violation, $5,000 per day per violation for a repeat violation, and up to $15,000 per violation

I was surprised as well. My takeaway is two-fold. First, if you’re concerned about activist local governments, it would serve you well to research the municipal government’s history prior to relocating. Second, it’s once again a reminder of the importance of local elections and community engagement. The government that’s closest to us almost always has the biggest impact over our day to day lives. Yet, it’s the one we’re least likely to pay attention to and its races are the ones we’re least likely to vote in as a community.

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Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP



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