Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Help Me Howard: Tamarac
What would you do if a city or county official came to your home and said you need to pay an inspector to come to your house and confirm you don't have a violation. They can't do that, you are probably thinking, but that is exactly what is happening in Tamarac, which is why people are calling Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser
WSVN -- Thirty-eight years ago this neighborhood called Academy Hills was built in Tamarac.
Dee Dee Rinaldi, Upset with Tamarac: "My parents built this in 1972. They were one of the first homeowners here."
Sixty-five duplexes built exactly the way Tamarac required.
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "These were fully up to code, fully permitted, fully inspected each and every time."
But, today the city of Tamarac has decided that each and every homeowner has to prove their homes are safe.
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "What they are saying is you might have an unsafe structure, so go out and hire an inspector."
In the past couple of years the front roof on three of the duplexes collapsed. A city inspector determined those three were not built properly, so now the other 62 homeowners have to pay an engineer to prove their roofs were put together to today's standards.
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "And if a couple of them are bad what makes them think the others are bad. They don't know. They have no idea."
The roofs were installed by three different contractors. It's assumed one did the bad ones, but no one has any idea which roofs are flawed and which are fine because the city of Tamarac lost the plans and permits.
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "They are assuming it's bad until you prove otherwise."
If the engineer hired by the homeowner determines the roof doesn't meet the current city standards, the homeowner has to pay anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 for the repairs, and if they can't afford to fix it they will be fined $250 a day.
Dee Dee Rinaldi "People here can't afford this. There is no money for this."
One of the the three with a bad roof is in foreclosure and the city had to pay to board it up. Dee Dee says her late mother wound be dumbfounded at tamarac's decision.
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "It's really ironic, my mother retired as a city of Tamarac building inspector. She is probably turning over in her grave right now that they are doing this."
But, can the city do it? Can they require every homeowner to pay to prove their home is not safe even if it may be safe. Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "In every area of the law if you make an allegation you have to prove it. Tamarac is doing the exact opposite, saying to their citizens you prove that you are not in violation."
Dee then went before a magistrate who was paid $125 an hour by the city of Tamarac to rule on the issue.
Judge: "Do you believe they pose a danger? That is correct like I said I have accepted the testimony of Mr. Anderson."
The magistrate agreed with the city inspectors right to do what he did and when Dee Dee challenged the magistrate it didn't go over well.
Judge: "Ma'am first of all what's your education?"
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "I have a masters in tax."
Judge: "Obviously you don't have experience in the construction business, maybe your mother did."
Dee Dee has a masters degree and doesn't know if the magistrate was trying to embarrass her. She does know she doesn't like his ruling. Howard says it doesn't surprise him, but that doesn't make it right.
Howard Finkelstein: "Remember that the building inspector is on the city's payroll, as is the magistrate, that is why the public believes you can't fight city hall, and that is why we have real judges in real courts."
In that respect the magistrate agrees with Howard, challenge the city's decision to pay to prove her home is safe.
Judge: "No you are going to pay for it."
Dee Dee Rinaldi: "I have a problem with that."
Judge: "Well then ma'ma within 30 days of my order you get to appeal it to circuit court and you have a circuit court judge say I am in error."
Dee Dee isn't sure what she will do now. A Tamarac official told me this is a safety issue that they feel the roofs have to be inspected to make sure no residents are hurt. That it would be negligent to ignore the problem. It's a tough one.
Hidden dangers hanging over your head? Want to seek safety? Contact us. We don't have a duplex, but we do have a newsplex and we will work here to help you.
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