Tenant code violations? Owner pays

Property Manager with AmeriTeam Property Management SL#3200658

Tenant code violations?  Owner pays

Tenant code violations?  Owner pays




Seems there's been a bit of trouble brewing down on Marco Island.  Some of the goings-on with the Code Enforcement folks of this seemingly idyllic area of Southwest Florida should serve as a reminder for homeowners elsewhere, though:  if you rent out your property to tenants who don't comply with codes, you're ultimately responsible for paying any fines that accrue.

In this story, a property owner (technically their daughter) appeared at a code enforcement hearing to answer complaints that their tenant had had committed a number of code violations in a relatively short time period of time:  litter, other debris, abandoned furniture and an unlicensed vehicle in their yard, as well as their most recent violation for having a refrigerator sitting in their driveway.

I made an appearance in front of a local code enforcement board a few years back myself.  The tenants in a property I managed had a transmission shop, and they'd often have vehicles they'd just sold in their driveway for a day or so while waiting to deliver them to their new owners.  It was a violation of the City of Casselberry's code to have a vehicle with a "transporter" license plate in a driveway for any period of time, and they'd sent notices that they were going to fine my owner $250/day until the matter was resolved.

Though I'd made a number of trips to the property to check on things without ever seeing a vehicle with such a tag, my tenants admitted to having had them a few times and never knew there was any problem.  The code enforcement guru assigned to the case informed me that my owner was in danger of his property being assigned the same "repeat offender" mentioned in this Marco Island story- and it was pretty scary.

What do you do?  Let things be and have fines pile up against your owner that could lead to a lien of some sort or a foreclosure?  Serve the tenants with a notice and "opportunity to cure"?  Choosing the latter, how quick is your trigger when moving to evict for this?

My trip in front of the code enforcement board was a truly educational experience- though I'd dare say that's hardly the board's intent.  As in this Marco Island case, the board gave my out-of-state owner credit for having a property manager handling things on his behalf.  They also gave me a bit of credit for due diligence in looking to resolve things by getting my tenants in compliance with codes and keeping them there.

The Casselberry board all but attributed their decision to not label my owner/his property as a "repeat offender" to their recognition of his making his best efforts toward doing right by all- the tenant and the city's code.

My tenant remained in the property through the end of their lease term as expected with no further violations, and my elated owner was thankful I kept his place occupied and played some small measure of a role in his not being fined a ton of money.

That's what we property managers do.  It's not always a glamorous job...wait....it's never really a glamorous job, but there are times when it's a rewarding one.  Perhaps some of the most rewarding times are ones when we can not only do a great job in managing an owners' property, but when we also have a chance to educate our owners in an area they'll see as beneficial.

Having a professional property manager helped the folks in my case and in this one from Marco Island, and it can help in many others as well- for the job we do and the purpose we serve is in equal parts managerial and instructional.


Tenant code violations?  Owner pays


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Property Manager

Licensed Florida Realtor
AmeriTeam Property Management
845 N. Garland Ave., #200
Orlando, FL  32801
205-445-4755 cell/direct
407-901-3636 x103 office
407-901-5147 office fax
Turning vacant into occupied, and "houses" into "homes"SM

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Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I do everything I can to not have rentals in a homeowner's association neighborhood. In the properties I rehab all over the state of Florida, many of the HOAs are the ones that give you all the grief even for little things like not enough flowers or needing to pressure wash your roof.  It gets ridiculous. 

Jan 17, 2014 02:28 AM #1
Dennis Burgess
AmeriTeam Property Management - Mid Florida, FL
Orlando Property Manager and Realtor

Hi, Rob:  Thank you for stopping by, and for your comment.  As you surely know, the pendulum never sits dead in the middle around here when it comes to the HOA's and COA's.  They've been called "horrendous", etc- and that's surely been true.  Ask many what comes to mind when thinking of Rybolts Reserve, for example.

They took a beating for a while, though- with tons of owners that quit paying their dues well before they quit making their mortgage payments.  Along came the Distressed Condo Relief Act of 2010, though- and the script got flipped, so to speak.  Easier for them to get their dues money 'cause it allows them to get it directly from a tenant, easier for them to foreclose and rent out places themselves while waiting out a bank, etc- tougher on property managers who are forced to decide whether culling an otherwise decent property from their portfolio when all could be well in a couple of months' time is that great of an idea.

Speaking specifically to their rules, some are both understandable and necessary.  Parking is often at a premium (see Dunwoody Commons, for example)- so rules against blocking the street are good.  Other rules?  Ehhhh.

The thing about Casselberry, though- is that my place there was in Triplet Lake Shores.  No HOA involvement here- it's all about the City of Casselberry.  Get this:  they also wanted to cite my tenant because he had a For Sale sign on a car in his front yard for a few days.  I asked them why they wanted to cite my tenant (and owner) for that when a guy around the corner had had a Mercedes for sale in his yard for a few months.

The crazy answer?  Casselberry treats homeowners and tenants differently:  the guy with the Mercedes owned his place and could sell a car from his front yard if he wished, while my tenant couldn't.  Now, that's ridiculous.  And when folks drive by a place and see a car in a yard, they don't have a clue whether the seller is an owner or a tenant (and it shouldn't be any of their dang business, in my humble yet accurate opinion)- so it's hard to see the City of Casselberry as being anything but punitive in this case.

If selling cars in yards is a problem when it's done by tenants, the practice is no less a public nuisance when carried out by an owner!

Jan 18, 2014 05:34 AM #2
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Dennis Burgess

Orlando Property Manager and Realtor
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