NewsPinellas County


'It's a full-on junkyard': Neighbors frustrated by dilapidated home with more than $800K in fines

Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 12:36:39-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Homeowners in unincorporated Largo say they're living next to a "full-on junkyard" with trash continuously piling up at the home in the 1100 block of 104th Street.

“I feel like we’re standing next to a garbage dump," John Swatek said.

The huge piles of random items in the backyard of the home next door to him include a bathtub, a huge TV, a wheelchair, stacks of plastic totes, tires, shoes and three full-size trailers.

“I’m tired of looking at it. It’s been over two years now that I’ve been looking at it," Swatek said in an exasperated tone.

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Swatek and his neighbors say they constantly call code enforcement, but the heaps of trash keep growing.

“It’s disgusting,” Jason Kylis, who lives across the street, said.

Swatek called ABC Action News for help. Reporter Sarah Hollenbeck immediately contacted Pinellas County Code Enforcement and found out the home has now racked up $813,874.96 in code enforcement fines, which is split between two parcels on the property. The property appraiser lists the value of the home being around $127,000.

Pinellas county leaders say the owner hasn't paid a dime.

If the owner were to pay off the fines, Pinellas County leaders say he would owe $24,085.96, but the amount continues to add up daily.

Pinellas County leaders say their aim is to bring code violations into compliance, not collect fines and they are willing to work with the property owner.

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Records show the owner of the home at 11797 104th Street has been cited for trash and debris, inoperable vehicles, zoning and shed citations, minimum housing violations, fencing issues and is facing a county lien.

Swatek and his neighbors say the fines aren't effective.

“It's not doing a thing,” Swatek added.

The next step is for the owner to face a judge who will force them to clean up the property or allow the county to clean it, at the owner's expense.

Swatek says his patience is wearing thin.

“The more I look at it, the more frustrated I get," he elaborated.

ABC Action News also asked county leaders if they would look into foreclosing on the home but found out it may not be possible since the property has a homestead exemption, meaning the owner claimed it is their primary address.

Pinellas County Code Enforcement is investigating to see if the owner is living in the property full time.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the amount of code enforcement fines faced by the homeowner. The original amount Pinellas County leaders reported to ABC Action News was reported as $980,000.