BAT a city sponsored scam in Toledo OH

11 Replies

I own an out of state SFR property that is managed by Flex Realty Property Management in Toledo OH.

I just received a fine from BAT (Beautification Action Team) stating that I failed to abate something.

I am not sure what but I owe them $470.00 for 1.58BAT units whatever that one is. That is $300.00 per BAT unit mind you. I cannot even understand for what are they charging me for nor what I was supposed to fix. To quote them verbatim: "As an owner on record at the time of service of the referenced address, you failed to abate a nuisance at the stated address."

The notice comes with 0.5% monthly interest and the following threat: "Failure to pay will result in the cost becoming a tax lien against the property or a personal debt turned over to a collection agency."  

I tried calling them and left multiple messages but no one returned my call.

The only thing I understood from this letter is that they inspected the site on Aug 20, 2015 and on the very next day (August 21, 2015) at 11:15 am BAT performed something. I was not informed about the problem but even if I was one cannot possibly expect to take an action with less than 24 hrs. notice.

I am not sure how this city operates but here in California we were given notice and then we were given 10-15 days to fix the problem (some of that time is eaten by the USPS to deliver the mail).

I understand that the city has laws to protect it's citizens from bad landlords/neighbors and fines need to be levied on people that do not care to maintain their properties but at least tell me what I should be paying you for. Take a picture, explain what the problem was so it will be avoided in the future. You cannot go around the city and charge people for service they have not ordered. "Here I replaced the tires on your car. That would be $2,000.00. You should be grateful for me doing that. Now pay up or we are going to send the bill to a collection agency. What? you didn't know you had a problem? We knew about it. We learned about it 12 hours ago. You should have read our minds and fix it before we came back to do it for you. Look how much more beautiful your car is now. Isn't it great. Welcome to the beautiful city of Toledo where we take a good care of each other." 

Is this a new way for the city to steal from the homeowners so they can line up the pockets of the city councils and the mayor? If it is, I don't really like it.

Am I been targeted because I am out of state owner and usually no one gives a frack about it? Are there any other out of state owners receiving similar invoices?

I've received a notice once before - contractor failed to clean-up after a renovation - I had the issue corrected and haven't heard anything more.

For that dollar amount, I would give it a few more days, try to get in touch with the city and then that failing, get a hold of a local attorney and have them look into it.

Also, are you engaging Flex?  They are your local representatives and Flex works with the city constantly...make sure you're engaging them aggressively.  Talk to Toni & Bill.  

I didn't want to engage Flex realty yesterday but last night I e-mailed them. Hopefully they'll know what is going on and help me reach the city.

I did receive some poor chap's bill for a similar amount. For some reason they were thinking I was the owner of that other property as well this is why I initially though it was a scam mail. 

@Bobby Narinov

I would get them on the phone immediately.  Flex may be a bit slow on the e-mail response so I always opt for a phone call.

I'm not saying they can fix the situation but as the property managers, I would push some of this back on to them in addition to the tenant - double check the lease and see if we can backcharge the tenant any of this.

If I recall correctly, you're working with a lease-option.  Thus, Mark should be your guy.  I'd engage him over the phone asap.

@Engelo Rumora I saw that post. I've yet to encounter BAT, but I have no doubt I will at some point. A couple years ago the city went out and mowed every vacant lot in the city whether they needed mowing or not and then sent us all bills. My lots did not need mowing as we maintain them. The bill for mowing one double lot was $1400. I went down to the city to fight it (along with recent pics of the mowed lot taken by my tenant who lives next to the lot and uses it as his yard). It turns out that a rogue employee put that program together and ALL of the bills were cancelled. Maybe this is the same thing? Hopefully so.

Originally posted by @Ryan Pyle :

@Engelo Rumora I saw that post. I've yet to encounter BAT, but I have no doubt I will at some point. A couple years ago the city went out and mowed every vacant lot in the city whether they needed mowing or not and then sent us all bills. My lots did not need mowing as we maintain them. The bill for mowing one double lot was $1400. I went down to the city to fight it (along with recent pics of the mowed lot taken by my tenant who lives next to the lot and uses it as his yard). It turns out that a rogue employee put that program together and ALL of the bills were cancelled. Maybe this is the same thing? Hopefully so.

WOW

Weird $#[email protected] lol

Medium list n sell logo designEngelo Rumora, List'n Sell Realty | [email protected] | 419 740 6999 | https://agentscomefirst.com/ | Podcast Guest on Show #89

It seems very odd that you were not given the opportunity to fix the problem. It sounds like you were fined for a problem that you didn't know exist. And they're demanding that you fork over $X without explaining the nature of the problem and what steps they took to resolve it.

Sounds kind of hinky to me.

Finally, I was able to talk to their head honcho Commissioner Cindy Geronimo.

I spent over an hour talking to her but I don't think she was even listening. She was repeating the same 3 sentences over and over again:

"we want our city clean. There are bad owners that do not take care of their property. We moaned your grass and we charged you $4.95/minute." No this is not a mistake it is PER MINUTE. This is $297.00/hour. That is not all. I have 5,401 sq.ft. lot. This includes the house and the garage. My loan is probably 1/3 of the lot. but lets say it is the whole 5,000 sq.ft. It took them 95 minutes to cut the grass. What were they using to cut the grass - nail clippers?

To make the matters worse, I have a gardener that I am paying for doing exactly that. When I told her that she started asking for proof that my guy is actually doing his job. The audacity of this bump. She has no proof that there was a problem. She has no proof that they have performed any service but she is asking me to prove to her that I was not at fault. What happened with "innocent until proven guilty" ? I have mailed her the receipt from my management company and she said that they are going to take look and see if they made a mistake. The way I look at this - no way in hell for me to win against the city. they have given themselves a money printing machine and they are going to crank it as much as they can. 

I wouldn't lie down on this one.  This is absurd.  It sounds like this city has a history of playing these grass cutting games.  I wonder if they have a picture of your lot right before they mowed it.  If not, I wouldn't pay this bill, period.

Originally posted by @Dana Whicker :

I wouldn't lie down on this one.  This is absurd.  It sounds like this city has a history of playing these grass cutting games.  I wonder if they have a picture of your lot right before they mowed it.  If not, I wouldn't pay this bill, period.

I absolutely agree. As well as the fact that you were not given notice of the "problem" or a chance to fix it. this seems like a scam to me, but it is a little harder to get out of since the city seems to be running this scam.

For example of some lawn and garden company came and mowed my yard without my permission and then demanded payment I would tell them to shove it.

They have no before nor after pictures. They have no proof they have done anything but bill me for services I have not ordered nor received.

I have proof that their system does not work: I got a bill for a property I don't own, which Commissioner Cindy Geronimo calls a "glitch in the system" but would not accept even the remote possibility of wrongful/unnecessary billing. I am still awaiting the response from her on wether I was billed incorrectly. She asked me to bear with her while they are setting up their new system which will have pictures but now, they don't.