Remove Tarp from Roof, Clean Sidewalk

(WSVN) - She got hit with a double whammy. Not only did the city tell her she had to clean their sidewalk around her house, but she had to take off the tarp covering a leaky roof. Can a city do all that to you? It’s why the call went out for Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Georgina was thinking about buying a home in Miami Gardens, her family was a little worried.

Georgina Reyes: “Miami Gardens is not really the safest area to live in.”

But Georgina told them, don’t worry, she’d be fine.

Georgina Reyes: “The neighbors look out for each other.”

Great neighbors, but don’t ask her about the City of Miami Gardens.

Georgina Reyes: “There’s other ways to get your message across.”

Georgina was surprised after a code enforcement officer left a warning notice that she had to remove the tarp that covers her leaky roof or pull a permit to repair it. She also had to repaint the blue porch, plant grass in the swale, and she had 30 days to power wash the sidewalk.

Georgina Reyes: “Never before have I received a citation warning that I had to pressure clean.”

If you ride around Miami Gardens, you see plenty of dirty sidewalks.

We stopped at City Hall. Across the street, the sidewalk lining the county fire station is very dirty.

And Miami Gardens might want to cite themselves. Their sidewalk at City Hall is dirty.

Georgina Reyes: “I think they should be examples. They should lead by example. If we want to clean up Miami Gardens, we should start with them.”

Georgina painted her porch, will plant grass in the swale, but can’t remove the tarp till she can save the money to repair the roof.

And she told the city, they laid down the sidewalk, it’s their job to clean it.

Georgina Reyes: “I’m like, ‘Isn’t this part of the reason why I pay taxes?’ And the lady informed me that, ‘No, it’s our responsibility,’ that, ‘We have to take care of that public space.'”

Needless the say, Georgina is not a happy taxpayer.

Georgina Reyes: “They should focus on lowering crime rates, maybe cleaning up the public area, not asking the citizens or other people to do their job.”

Well, Howard, let’s do two questions in one. Can the city make you take a tarp off your leaky roof? And can they make you clean the sidewalk in front of your home?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes to both both your questions, Patrick. They can make you take the tarp down, and even though the city or county owns the sidewalk abutting your property, the law says you have to clean it, usually within 30 days, or you start getting fined. The tarp is more complicated because you have a right to protect your home. The law gives you a reasonable amount of time to repair the roof, and the city has to accommodate you.”

We asked Miami Gardens how many homes were warned to pressure clean their sidewalks in the last six months. The paperwork showed 101 properties got warning notices out of the 34,000 houses in the city.

A spokesperson wrote, “The City of Miami Gardens takes great pride in the cleanliness and beautification of our community.”

And after we asked about the dirty sidewalks outside City Hall, they did pressure wash that, but the sidewalks across the street at the county fire station are still dirty.

So, Howard, can the government pick and choose who they go after?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, they cannot be selective. The law applies to everyone, but they cannot go after everybody at the same time, and because of limited staff, the law gives a city time to cite the people who need to be warned.”

Georgina pressure cleaned her sidewalk, but that tarp is still there, and she says, cleaning up the city is great, but give residents like her, who are not rich, some time.

Georgina Reyes: “Give them notice, give them a few months. Again, it’s not something within my finances.”

Miami Gardens and many other cities make the residents maintain the sidewalks. Many cities do it themselves. Some even split the cost. Check with your city to find out who is responsible.

As for the tarp, Howard said you can leave it for a reasonable amount of time while you save the money to repair the roof. So what’s reasonable? Legally, there is no set number of weeks or months, but a city should use common sense and have a little heart, ’cause roof repairs are not cheap.

Feel it’s a crime the way you’re being treated? Things getting dirty as you fight back? Take our side and walk this way, so we can clean things up for you.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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