Neighborhood Eyesore in Miami Racks Up Over $500K in Fines

Vivian Guzman says living in the Shenandoah neighborhood of Miami is a dream.

“It’s beautiful old homes,” Vivian Guzman said.

But there’s one nightmare she says has haunted her for more than a decade.  

“This is what they have to look at, and it is unacceptable,” Guzman said.

Overgrown grass, a debris-filled yard, and a fading façade at a home on 20th Street are among the issues Guzman says she has reported to the City of Miami code compliance.

“I have contacted the city on numerous occasions at the start of hurricane season looking for some relief,” Guzman said.

Georg Ketelhohn also lives in the Shenandoah neighborhood. He says he has offered to help the home’s owner clear out the mess.

“We can’t go into her property without her permission, we have offered to help but she doesn’t want help,” Ketelhohn said.

With little help from the city, the neighbors called NBC 6 Responds for help.

NBC 6 Responds found out the city has issued 13 code violations against the home since 2005. The home’s owner has also racked up $558,250 in fines.

“There is an active open violation for overgrowth and for junk and trash,” Robert Santos-Alborna.

Santos-Alborna is the new Code Enforcement Director for Miami. He has been on the job for three months, but after our phone call, he took a closer look at this case.

“There is an unsafe structure case that was referred to building for assessment and in their professional expertise the property, the structure itself is not unsafe,” Santos-Alborna said.

He says though the home has been racking up fines, unlike other municipalities Miami can not enter onto private property to correct this type of issue without an order from a judge.

“In order to enter a private property, to remove the overgrowth, remove the junk and trash, we need an injunction,” Santos-Alborna said.

He says an injunction is now in the works.

“I would like to say there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Santos-Alborna said.

We contacted the owner of the property, over the phone they told us they have been doing repairs such as painting the sides of the house and washing the roof. However, they did not say how long it will take to complete the work.

Santos-Alborna says an injunction can take up to 90 days, but with it they will be able to enter the property to correct the violations.