Owners face higher fines for property code citations

Stiffer penalties will be meted out to those who neglect their properties in unincorporated areas.

Clark County commissioners Tuesday approved codes that will establish new fines and increase existing ones to punish owners who don’t maintain their properties.

Under a new "rehabilitation" code, people who abandon their dwellings for 35 days or who don’t keep up their rentals could be fined $1,000 a day. They will have 15 days to respond to a notice from the county before the fines begin.

Another code is aimed at those whose properties have become a nuisance. Examples would be storing junky appliances in front yards or letting a dirty swimming pool turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"Swimming pools are a serious issue because we have the West Nile virus," said Joe Boteilho, who heads county code enforcement. "They can harbor insects that affect people’s health."

Violators could be fined $100 a day for the first 10 days, $500 a day for the next 20, and then $1,000 per day thereafter. The most a person would pay is $10,000 or three times the cost of fixing the property, whichever is greater.

The fines used to be $50 daily for the first 10 days, $100 a day for the next 20, then $200 a day after that. The cap was the same.

The nuisance code applies to businesses and homes, Boteilho said. Owners of abandoned homes or rundown rentals could be slapped with fines from both the nuisance and rehabilitation codes.

A local real estate agent objected to the nuisance fines jumping to $1,000 after 30 days.

"We believe (that) to be excessive," said Sean Fellows, government affairs director for the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Under both codes, owners can appeal the nuisance fines to the county commission and ask that they be reduced or waived.

And owners can avoid paying the rehabilitation fines by drafting a plan for fixing the properties.

The commission also passed a code that will enable the county to take immediate action on structures that endanger the public.

In the past, the county had to send a written notice to the owner with a deadline for fixing the hazard.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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