Hillsborough demands payment for clearing property filled with trash

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Taxpayers spent more than $60,000 to haul junk from Brenda Owings' Berkford Avenue property when she refused to do so.

So what is Hillsborough County doing to get your money back? The county sent Owings a demand letter stating she has 30 days to pay the bill or face foreclosure. The $60,000 is a bill for the 2014 removal of hundreds of tons of junk and trash the county hauled from her Citrus Park property.

"Go talk to them," Owings shouted through a door when asked if she received the demand letter.

In 2014, Bob Mullins contacted 8 On Your Side, complaining Owings, his neighbor, stuffed her property from one end to the other with everything and anything, including a school bus. Our investigation discovered Owings ignored code violations, ran up more than $300,000 in fines. The county let it drag on for 16 years.

"She knows she can get away with it. There's no consequences," Mullins said.

8 On Your Side took the issue to the Board of County Commissioners.

That prompted County Attorney Chip Fletcher to draw up an ordinance allowing Hillsborough to take chronic code violators to court, which in turn led to the county bringing in heavy equipment to clean up Owings Berkford Avenue property. The county claims Owings now owes more than $548,000 in code violation fines.

Now, the problem has moved from one property to another.

Mullins said Owings is now moving appliances, furniture, and bags and bags of who knows what to a new location on Amhearst Street right across the road from him. The county started foreclosure process by sending the demand letter, officials said.

"I think it's just lip service," said a skeptical Mullins.

When asked if she would pay the $60,000 bill, Owings remained defiant.

"Go away. If my dog pees on the floor you're going to clean it up," she said.

According to the demand letter, Owings has 30 days to pay the $60,000 bill or contact the county attorney's office. The county claims if she ignores this warning, it is authorized to pursue all legal actions necessary to collect the debt, including filing in state court to foreclose on the property.


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