Falling behind on mortgage payments is the most obvious cause of foreclosure. But, a 69-year-old homeowner in Dunedin is engaged in a foreclosure defense against that city’s code enforcement board. It is trying to foreclose on his home because he accrued $30,000 in unpaid fines for uncut grass since 2018.
Earlier this month, the board filed the foreclosure action. The city fined the homeowner $500 per day over the summer because his grass was over 10 inches. His house has a market value of $29,833. On the same day of the foreclosure action, the homeowner filed a lawsuit against the city and members of its code enforcement board. He is attempting to obtain nominal damages of one dollar, attorneys fees and injunctions that relieve him of the city’s fines. He also filed the lawsuit to end the city’s alleged practice of imposing fines without considering a homeowner’s ability to pay. He announced the lawsuit in front of his home and its now trimmed lawn.
In his lawsuit, he claimed that he was away from his property for weeks at a time to help his ailing mother in South Carolina. In 2015, the city cited him for the uncut grass while he was in South Carolina. His mother died in the summer of 2016. He went to South Carolina to manage her estate again for two weeks in July of 2016. The man who mowed his lawn died suddenly. When he retired, he tried to mow the lawn, but his mower broke.
He claimed that the city did not notify him that it was charging him $500 each day for the grass because he was a repeat offender. He missed a board hearing because he had to go to South Carolina again to deal with his mother’s estate. Dunedin’s mayor defended the board action and said that it responded to his neighbors’ complaints. She also claimed that he had a history of code violations on this property.