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My father is disabled, on oxygen and unable to walk far due to COPD. The city is fining a civil penalty of almost $10,000 for a rental property he has with only 1 notice to appear for a hearing. He cannot attend the full day hearing on oxygen, and they fined almost 1/2 of the property value? What can be done to allow more time for the family to help. City refused to allow a continuance.

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In the meantime, brainstorm service clubs like high school clubs, 4H, church groups that typically do "public service" projects. Sometimes if you bought a cooler of soda and make a batch of cookies and host a pile of teenagers with garden tools, you will be amazed what they can accomplish.
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First of all, get Dad an attorney who is familiar with housing court. Then Dad needs to either hire a property manager or sell the place. Absentee landlords are a huge problem for cities and the judges are not sympathetic. Either the property gets cleaned up, or the city cleans it up and levies a fine.
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Is the trash an eyesore or a health hazard? If it poses risk to the community ie a haven for vermin, a fire hazard... that sort of thing then the city has an obligation to the community to make sure the property owner resolves the problem. I would let them know that you and your Dad are willing to work with them and that you want to clean up the property. Garden Artist had some very good suggestions.
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I certainly know about these situations. It wouldn't surprise me if your father actually lived in the same city I do!

First, as to the rental property, perhaps he can hire a manager who can take care of the property. It seems as though it's too much for him, so perhaps it should be managed by a professional group, or even sold.

I would contact the city attorney, explain the situation, and ask if the hearing could be scheduled at a specific time so that your father doesn't need to worry about taking 2 oxygen tanks with him. Bypass the code enforcement department; my experience is that some of these characters are little Nazis and love to throw their weight around and intimidate residents. And they may not have any authority anyway, especially if legal proceedings have already started.

Were there any initial notices or did the city just schedule a hearing? Typically someone is supposed to be given time to clean up the offensive property.

Second, I would contact the senior center of the city and ask if they have programs to assist property maintenance of the rental property. Typically there are minor chore program that help out seniors, but I don't know whether they would apply to rental properties.

Third, contact your local attorney bar association, ask for a list of pro bono attorneys and law schools which may have low cost or free clinics, and contact as many of them as you can to see if you can get assistance. However, if your father can afford to pay for it, ask the bar association for lists of attorneys who specialize in municipal issues, real estate and/or landlord tenant issues.

Fourth, do some quick research for junk haulers in your father's area and tell them it's urgent. I've recently contacted a few and found a small company with rapid service and excellent understanding of junk accumulation by elders. They came the day after we met for an estimate and handled everything very well.

At this point, it may just save you some money in the long run to hire someone now, then make plans to determine how to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.

There's another way to handle this, although I wouldn't consider it the best. Contact the city attorney and try to work out a settlement by which the most egregious trash and debris are removed by the city, with your father paying for it. Try to negotiate a time frame within which the less offensive stuff can be removed, giving the family time to become involved.

My experience with city attorneys is that when dealing with residents, they can be very pig-headed, obnoxious and throw their weight around. If you can get a private sector attorney involved, you'll at least have some balance of power.

Another last resort alternative would be to contact a tv station; some enjoy doing hard luck stories, putting cities on the spot for their hostile treatment of residents. Sometimes local groups, volunteers, concerned citizens and possibly even scout troops can volunteer to pitch in and help out.

Good luck; I know how frustrating this situation can be.
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