A code enforcement ticket issued more than 30 years ago came back to haunt a Miami-Dade woman.
Mauricia Mathews moved into her Northwest Miami house back in 1969.
Forty-nine years after moving in, she never imagined she would be fighting Miami-Dade County to have a lien taken off her home.
“I want the lien to be taken out of my house,” Mathews told NBC 6.
In 2016, Mathews got a letter in the mail from Miami-Dade County’s solid waste department.
The letter notified her that an $875 debt was being transferred to Credit and Collections.
Mathews says when she contacted the county to find out more, she was told she owed the money and that a lien had been placed on her home.
It all stemmed from a Code Enforcement Violation from 1987.
Mathews says she remembers a code enforcement officer giving her a ticket for unauthorized bulk trash but she claims the trash she was ticketed for was not hers.
“I say I am not going to pay because it is not my fault. I didn’t put it in there, it’s not mine,” said Mathews.
She says the trash was in a common area.
Mathews showed us a letter she sent to the county dated five days after she got the ticket. In it, she requested a court hearing.
Mathews says she didn’t hear anything about the issue again until 2016 when letters started to arrive in her mailbox. After two years of not knowing what to do, she called NBC 6 Responds for help.
“The problem is they put the lien on my house 30 years back and I want to know why they didn’t tell me that earlier,” she said.
We reached out to Miami-Dade County and at our request, her case file was re-opened.
Soon after, a county representative sent us a timeline. It showed that the county received her appeal in 1987, but a court date was not granted until 1991.
Mauricia says she never knew a court date was set.
When she didn’t show up for the 1991 hearing, she was found guilty.
In 1998, a lien was recorded due to non-payment.
We asked the county if it is common for a hearing to be granted years after a resident files an appeal and a representative sent us this statement,
“Regarding the old citation for unauthorized bulky waste on the right of way that was issued to Ms. Mathews, we have offered to settle it with her for $75, the original amount of the citation, and to clear all the other charges. We realize there were several delays during the process and we apologize to Ms. Mathews for those. Because the case originated so long ago, we were unable to determine the cause of the delays. But it is our goal to hold hearings 90 days or less after the date a citation is issued and we have taken measures to expedite the process of handling unpaid and appealed citations to ensure that similar cases do not occur in the future.”
As for the lien on Mauricia’s home, since the lien was recorded more than 20 years ago it is expired under Florida law.
Mauricia still disputes having to pay the $75 ticket since she says the bulk trash was not hers.
You can check for property liens online at the Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts website. Liens in Miami-Dade County accumulate interest each year.