Several municipalities in South Florida now appear to be starting a new trend that is likely to gain momentum in the months and years to come. These municipalities, which include West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Hallandale Beach and Sunrise, have changed the manner in which they bill homeowners for code enforcement repairs in an effort to force the owner to pay or face the possibility of losing their property. With so many abandoned properties winding their way through the slow pace of the foreclosure process, this change is likely to receive significant consideration and approval by many municipalities in the months to come.
It is no secret that many homes located throughout communities in South Florida, including those in homeowners associations, have been abandoned in the aftermath of the foreclosure-fueled housing meltdown. These abandoned homes take a huge toll on neighborhood property values. Many of these properties have become eyesores with broken windows, doors and fences, making them a safety and security hazard for the community at large. When this happens, HOAs and homeowners in communities without associations should contact the code enforcement department of the local municipality to request that the necessary inspection and repairs be made.
Typically, municipalities place liens on the property for the cost of the repairs. But with abandoned homes it often takes years to collect. Now, the municipalities mentioned above have approved new measures to add the costs of the repairs to the property owner’s tax bill, which must be paid annually or the owner risks losing the property.
Other South Florida municipalities, many of which presumably face significant sums in property maintenance liens on abandoned homes, are bound to carefully consider this measure, as it is likely to be met with widespread approval by local taxpayers and property owners who have been footing the bill for the repairs to abandoned homes. The change should make it much easier for municipalities to continue to maintain and repair abandoned properties without the fear of taking on additional expenditures that may not be recouped for years.
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