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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2937
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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I have a 12x24 portable building sitting on the ground that

Resolved Question:

I have a 12'x24' portable building sitting on the ground that I use for my motel office it has been there for over 2 years. Matagorda County, Texas is trying to fine me for FEMA bilding code violation. Would not the statue of limitations prevent this action against me?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 9 months ago.

William B. Esq. :

Thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

I am sorry to learn of this problem. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations would not apply to a building code enforcement action (statutes of limitations claims do not work against the government in this manner).

William B. Esq. :

What may work would be a "grandfather clause". If you are able to locate a clause in the exact code that they are using to harass you with that allows buildings that have been in existence for an extended period of time to be exempt from these codes, you may be able to leave your building in place.

Customer:

what would be my best defense against this I was told this is unenforceable in unincorporated municipalities with less than 100,000 people? also I read where fences, swimming pools and portable building are uninsurable there for do not fall under fema guide lines

William B. Esq. :

You need to check the specific FEMA regulation they are trying to enforce. The guidelines and rules that apply, as well as the exceptions to the same are so varied that it is impossible to try to do a broad search of what applies or doesn't apply without finding what it is they are doing to you specifically.

William B. Esq. :

It is possible that the regulation simply does not apply - with federal (and state) regulations, every element must be met, for example, if the population is too small, the regulation is unenforceable.

William B. Esq. :

Similarly, if the regulation says "for all buildings placed after 2005", and your building was placed in 2004, the regulation would not apply (that is a "grandfather clause").

Customer:

the appearance notice simply states violation of flood plan ordiance

William B. Esq. :

It doesn't give a regulation number or statute number?

Customer:

no, none, first hearing was in J. P. court that was not even in my precent.

William B. Esq. :

Was it at least in your County?

Customer:

I plead not guilt and requested a jury and they scheduled me back to J.P. court again not in my precinct.

Customer:

yes in my county but not my precinct

William B. Esq. :

Was this a civil proceeding or a criminal proceeding? Usually these are civil proceedings, but you file an answer, you do not plead "guilty" or "not guilty"

Customer:

I feel I am being railroaded because of so many inconsistencies and discrepancies for what Matagorda county building code inspector approves and dis-approves.

Customer:

Civil, since I wanted to fight it the JP gave us an option of trial by panel or jury.

William B. Esq. :

It is unfortunate and wrong to be treated arbitrarily by public officials. However, if you are in the judicial system it may be possible to place more a more orderly and fair procedure on this. I do not know if the current JP court is acceptable to you (it may be wrong, but filing a motion to change courts is a pain, and you already have a lot to deal with, I do not know how much you will gain from switching courts, it may be a lot, I do not know, this is a strategy decision and I cannot advise you in that regard).

William B. Esq. :

You can bring the focus back to the actual laws and rules at play. You can demand that the county provide you with the statutes or regulations it believes you are violating, as well as the penalties, fines, or other restitution they are seeking through discovery - make sure to get some assistance through legal aid, the court's self help desk, or other online sources as you go along - you can provide defenses to this, and make sure that they prove every single element. If they cannot, and you can argue that they cannot, they are not entitled to a judgment in their favor.

Customer:

can I counter sue for reimbursement of my expenses if I win?

William B. Esq. :

Unfortunately no - not with a government entity (we also have the "american rule" which means that each party bears their own litigation costs).

Customer:

ok thanks! do you know a good lawyer to take this case in Matagorda county Texas?

William B. Esq. :

Unfortunately, I am not permitted to give specific referrals on this forum. I can however give you a couple of sites that will be helpful in locating a local attorney. You can find attorneys on your State Bar Association’s website: (http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Lawyer_Referral_Service_LRIS_); Martindale Hubble: (http://www.martindale.com/); or, on AVVO: (http://www.avvo.com/find-a-lawyer).


 


To keep costs down, I recommend finding an attorney that is working in a small firm or as a solo practitioner. A newer attorney usually charges slightly less than a more experienced attorney, while the more experienced attorneys are usually a little more efficient. In the end, you need to find an attorney that you feel comfortable with, and it is okay to speak with more than one before retaining one.


 

William B. Esq. :

I hope the above is helpful, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to let me know and I will follow up quickly.


Thank you for using our service, please do not forget to rate my answer when you are satisfied. I am going to transfer our conversation to the "Q&A" format to ensure you can review the entire response and that I can follow up to any questions you may have quickly. I do wish you the best of luck in this matter.

William B. Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2937
Experience: I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 9 months ago.
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