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Florida woman fights for right to remain living in tree house

Shawnee Chasser has called tree house home for more than 10 years

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Welcome to Shawnee's paradise -- a tropical oasis nestled right off busy Northwest 135th Street in Miami-Dade County. 

The centerpiece of her home is a tree house located on top of an old Oak Tree.

Shawnee Chasser has lived in the tree house for more than a decade, and the purple-haired grandmother said she's never had any issues until last year.

Chasser told Local 10 News that she now has more than $30,000 in fines because of building code violations.

"Everything's a code violation," Chasser said.

She's already spent more than $10,000 on fines and costs to update the property, but it's not enough. She's been ordered to remove her tree house, along with six other structures that have been deemed as unsafe.

Another big problem is the number of people living on the property. The land is zoned for a single-family residence, but there are several people renting rooms on the property.

Miami Dade County's Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources released a statement saying the county's priority is the safety of all its residents and visitors.

"The tree house under discussion and other structures on the property were not properly permitted or built to the standards of the Florida building code," the statement said. "Substandard construction and improperly running electricity and plumbing on a property present a hazard not just to those on the property, but also to neighbors.

These structures were found to be unsafe by the unsafe structures panel. It's an unfortunate situation that must be corrected for the safety of the residents and neighbors. The property owner may choose to hire a professional engineer and present new evidence to unsafe structures panel (within the time limit of the current order) showing that the tree house may be rebuilt with  permits and to the standards of the building code and all other applicable local codes."

Chasser said she is prepared to fight the ruling. She is appealing the decision with help from her attorney.

"I basically spent the last year crying and being scared, and I'm over it," she said.

Chasser has up to 120 days to appeal the decision.