Published: Sep 01, 2010 11:42 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 01, 2010 7:58 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - There are some properties in Charlotte County with liens up to $50,000 - $60,000. That's a lot of money that some people just can't afford. Through the Code Enforcement Lien Relief Program, which kicked off September 1st, there's a way to have those liens reduced.

High grass. Outside storage. Expired permits. These are three reasons Code Enforcement is so busy. "We've tried everything we could. the amount of liens we have right now are astronomical," Licensing and Code Enforcement Manager Erin Mullen-Travis said.

Rather than chase owners who aren't paying fines, the county is giving them a chance to wipe the slate clean:

PART A gives property owners the opportunity to reduce the amount of liens assessed on their property as long as they ensure that there are no existing code violations. There is a $100 application/processing fee and the reduced amount must be paid within 30 days of notification of the amount. The reduced amount will be based on the date of application for inclusion in the program. Applications dated between Sept. 1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2011 that meet all the requirements of the program will see a reduction of 50% or $2,500 - whichever is less. Applicants after this date will receive a reduction of 25% or $5,000 - whichever is less.

PART B gives NEW owners of properties purchased through a foreclosure sale, clerk's sale or other judicially imposed sale the opportunity to obtain a release of lien for any existing encumbrances for Code Enforcement Liens. There is a $150 application/processing fee and again the property in question must be in compliance with all County Codes before the release will be granted.

"That's so they don't turn the property over to the next guy and then we have to take a case against that new owner," Mullen-Travis said.

There are currently $3.5 million in outstanding liens in Charlotte County. While the county will get some money back, the main goal is to bring these properties up to compliance and get owners to take pride in their properties.

"Everybody's from someplace else and we all need to realize that this is our town and if we want to prosper, we cant have all these violations," Mullen-Travis said.

Carl Collier takes pride in his home. A lien relief for his neighbor, will be a relief for him. "Wonderful idea," Collier said. "Anything to help clean up some of the neighborhoods and get things going. That would probably be the best thing that happened to Port Charlotte and Charlotte County.

Your property must be in compliance and application fees must be paid in full at the time you apply. The money collected will go towards inspections and future abatement programs. For more information, go to:  www.CharlotteCountyFL.com/BCS