Monday, February 6, 2012

Code Enforcement Beyond Foreclosure

Miami, FLORIDA, Mike Kane for EVN – The hundred or so families who live at Royal Duke Trailer Park in the Brownsville area of Miami share a tight bond.  Some are extended families living in groups of trailers; many are immigrants — from Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua. Most work hard at low-wage jobs, some are unemployed, others retired. They all struggle financially.

Royal Duke residents paid anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to purchase their mobile homes, and pay the trailer park owner $500 a month to rent the space where their trailers sit. Now some residents are in a precarious position: Come up with the money to make structural changes required by county code, or lose their original investment and their homes.

Miami-Dade County building inspectors have recently stepped up enforcement at trailer parks, issuing citations and threatening to fine park owners if housing-code violations aren’t remedied. In turn, park owners are evicting residents who can’t comply, the trailer titles reverting to the park owners.

Miriam Ross, a public information officer with Miami-Dade County Permitting, Environment and Regulatory Affairs Department, noted, “If you buy a property with a violation, you are the owner of the violation. You have to do due diligence before you buy.”

Kit Rafferty, executive director of South Florida Jobs With Justice, sees the residents’ side: “These families have a different understanding of civic engagement and of building codes ‒ many people come from places where there are none.”

In fact, Florida does not require dwelling inspections during a sale, and most Royal Duke residents do not have the money to hire a home inspector or know how to find out if a mobile home meets Miami-Dade County housing code.

Some Royal Duke residents have already walked away, losing their homes. Some have filed appeals, hoping to gain time to fix up their homes. Other residents are taking a stand, forming an association to take action against the park owner.

“It is an issue of poverty, but also an issue of people not understanding that they can stand up to power without being shot.”

Copyright 2012 Equal Voice News


2010 / 04 / 11
The rules were made clear to Taryn when she moved in: If the city of Minneapolis comes knocking, don’t talk. Don’t let them in.
Secrecy is critical for Taryn and her five roommates. They have been breaking the law all year, and their landlord knows it. Although their house in Southeast Como has six bedrooms, the city only allows three unrelated people to live there.
So when city officials made an appointment to inspect the house for over-occupancy, Taryn’s landlord sprang into action. The night before the inspection, the landlord and his tenants loaded furniture from half of the bedrooms out the back door and onto a moving truck. The city inspector arrived the next day and found three bedrooms and three roommates. Everything checked out.
The truck returned the next morning, and the other three roommates moved their beds and belongings back in that day. It was an extreme solution to a common problem.
In an informal Minnesota Daily housing survey, 40 percent of properties in neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota campus were found to be over-occupied. The students who live in these houses don’t think of themselves as lawbreakers. Some are unaware of the law, and others are willing to violate the city ordinance in the name of cheaper rent.

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