In a recent article (click here), a local TV station in Cincinnati discusses a Councilmember’s new initiative to have unpaid code enforcement fines no longer be applied to the property’s taxes.

While the Councilmember’s intentions are very honorable and worthwhile, it is not only the struggling homeowner whose rights and circumstances need to protected. I have always advocated that just as a homeowner has certain rights, so too the neighboring property owners have rights.

Striking a balance is extremely difficult. Often it takes specific training, skill and experience to achieve success. Sometimes it’s discretion and common sense. But increasingly these instances require “micromanagement” and municipal staff often do not have the bandwidth to do what is needed.

There are many instances of code violation fines being ignored and the municipality unable to escalate (i.e. take legal actions)

There are many instances where code violations fines are placed as liens, that may be “wiped out” at foreclosure sale as they would be secondary lien to the mortgage. If the funds are recouped at sale how much time has passed?

Code enforcement should have as many “carrots” and “sticks” at their disposal to effectively fulfill their responsibilities to their community. Removing a big “stick” would greatly weaken a critical component to the ongoing health of a community.

There are “carrots” not being utilized. Communities should continue to innovate, think creatively, and think out-of-the-box to increase the bandwidth of their code enforcement team to allow for the micromanagement.

This will create a win-win solution for property owners and municipalities.

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