Business owners can sometimes find themselves in court for all kinds of strange reasons. A landlord in Orange County, Florida found himself in federal court over several disputes with a code enforcement board.
When these situations occur, representation from a business lawyer is essential to avoid additional problems and financial losses.
Land use dispute forces owner into court against the local government
The owner of a yellow duplex on Salem Drive has been arguing with county officials for over two years, and now it appears that they are ready to enter federal court. The county’s main argument is that the residence had been previously renovated from a single family home into a rental unit without their approval. The county has been issuing fines since October of 2018, and the owner now owes a balance of over $70,000. However, the owner claims that current occupants are staying in the residence with the assistance of the government’s Section 8 program, and they cannot afford a mortgage or other comparable housing. The owner’s main point of contention is that Orange County’s actions violate the Federal Fair Housing Act, while displacing the tenants.
Orlando does have a documented affordable housing crisis, and was recently ranked as the worst metro area in the country for affordable housing. There were over 5,000 people on Orlando’s affordable housing waitlist at the time of the news report. The county government declined to comment when asked about their actions despite the local housing issues.
The whole dispute apparently emerged from a situation where one of the occupants of the duplex left an old couch on the side of the road. A county code enforcement officer saw this and then visited the house again later. He issued the owner a citation when he discovered that the residence had been illegally converted into a duplex. The owner claims that over the next few months, the same code enforcement officer returned to take pictures and search the area illegally. The county claims that they acted within their authority.
The status of the property is also in dispute. The owner claims that the structure has always been a duplex since it was first built in the 1950s. However, the county believes their records show that the residence was still a single family home when the current owner bought it in 2002. A application had been submitted years earlier to rezone the land to allow the duplex to be used, but the government later changed their minds for dubious reasons after initially approving the application.
Government regulations and actions against businesses
Most businesses are regulated to a certain degree by the federal or local government. It can be crucial to get legal advice to ensure compliance, otherwise the owner may face fines or lawsuits. This is true for owners in the food service industry, real estate, transportation, and many other fields. All businesses that hire employees must also follow government regulations related to wages, hours, working conditions, and a number of other factors.
Why is business law advice important?
It is important to have a business law attorney review any transaction, especially if there is a large sum of money involved or complex legal issues are implicated. Only the most experienced and detail oriented lawyers should be trusted with such tasks. As this news story shows, there is also the possibility that a business lawyer is necessary to defend a company against lawsuits from the government, individuals, or even employees.
Talk with a local business professional today
USAttorneys.com contains listings for local business attorneys in the Orlando area. Legal Counsel P.A. is one such firm that provides assistance to individuals and businesses throughout central Florida.