Homeowner flips home, fights City of Dunedin for reduced fines

9:03 PM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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Dunedin, Florida -- A neighborhood eyesore was transformed into a beautiful new home, but the City of Dunedin still demands code enforcement fines from the owner.

Dunedin City continued to fine the homeowner, Thomas Menichino $150 a day after he bought a foreclosed home. 

Menichino knowingly bought the home with a lien on it of already $6,800. Plus, he knew he would be fined another $150 a day until it was in compliance with city code.

"When I bought it I just continued it and doubled the speed," said Menichino. "I went over and re-trimmed the trees, tore the plants out did the grass and really went above and beyond."

His neighbors agreed.

PHOTOS: Homeowner flips house in Dunedin

"Anytime someone improves a house like this it brings up the value of the rest of the neighborhood," said Kim and Dan Mohr. "The cul de sac was getting a little run down and it's definitely been a huge improvement."

The Mohr's are familiar with the city's code enforcement inspectors.  They run a café in Dunedin and have had to work closely with them. 

"There is no leeway," said Kim Mohr. "If someone is coming in and wanting to open a business or wanting to improve their house I feel like there shouldn't be so many speed bumps and roadblocks put in the way. There should even be some incentive at best, and at the least don't make it hard for someone who wants to spend their own money to make improvements." 

Menichino hoped once the code enforcement inspectors saw the beautiful home he put almost $40,000 into to remodel, they might lower the fines. 

"I really wanted to do the deal. I saw I could make some profit on it, so I took a little bit of a gamble," admitted Menichino. 

The bank, American Home Mortgage, had taken the home on June 26, 2013 and had not, according to the city complied with code enforcement at all. Menichino still believed he could take the efforts the bank was making on the home and speed it up and meet code enforcement compliance.

The Code Enforcement Department said it was not up to compliance until 18 days after he purchased it. Menichino's total in fines was more than $10,000. 

The City would not go on camera, but they tell 10 News Thomas bought the home knowing he'd incur the lien. They said buyers need to follow the code enforcement procedures. They also said they do lien reductions all the time but one has to write a formal letter to code enforcement that lists the financial hardships.

They said Menichnio did write that letter, but the citizens on the code enforcement board did not feel his statement qualified him for reducing his lien. They said buyers wanting to purchase a foreclosed home beware, code enforcement rules will apply until compliance is met.

The City said Menichino did his due diligence and checked the public record before he made the purchase to see there was a lien on the house, but he still chose to purchase the home.

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