joe-martinez_web.jpgMIAMI — In February, Miami-Dade County commissioners extended an amnesty period for homeowners who have been unable to pay fines on their property due to building code violations.

The item was brought before the commission by Chairman Joe A. Martinez, who initiated the effort last year to assist residents during the current difficult economy.

The original ordinance allowed homeowners a six-month grace period to bring their homes up to code and address any violations brought forth by the county. 

Since the extension was approved, records have shown growth in the number of residents who have requested amnesty since August of last year, when the program initially was implemented.

During the first six months of the program — August 8, 2011 to February 3, 2012 — 37 homeowners took advantage of the amnesty program. From April 7 to May 4 of this year, 23 homeowners settled on liens with the county, saving over $247,000 in fines.

“More and more homeowners are learning about this amnesty option and using it to avoid hefty liens and address issues with their property,” said Martinez. “Homeowners are saving money, and Miami-Dade County has fewer homes it needs to constantly inspect for code and safety violations.”

Homeowners interested in qualifying for amnesty can contact the Department of Permitting, Environment and Regulatory Affairs at 786-315-2000.

Photo: Joe A. Martinez