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Condo association changes rental restriction rules on landlord owner

Posted on Thu, Dec 30, 2010 @ 06:34 AM

I own 5 units in a (155 unit) condo building in Miami Beach, Florida. The last one I bought was a foreclosure. The previous owner owed a lot of money to the condo association. This building has rental restrictions for the 1st year of ownership. Because this was a complicated foreclosure I was under contract for over 2 years. Before signing the contract I asked the buildings office and the board if they would make an exception to this rule that I would buy the unit. I explained that it would be good for the building to get thousands of dollars owed by the previous owner (now the bank). The building manager said yes, that I could rent it and that she would even help me find a tenant. The President of the board said to just put the request in writing and she would present it to the rest of the board and that there should be no problem. So I signed the contract to buy.

Two years later the manager and the President of the board are no longer there. The new board says that was 2 years ago and a different board so it does not count. Because this foreclosure had issues when it was ready to close I legally could be out of my contract. I told the new board that it would be good for the board to get thousands of dollars from this sale and to get a responsible person making regular payments. I explained that if they did not make the rental rule exception that I would not buy. I explained that the property was in such distress that the likelihood a lender would finance it was little. And few investors would pay cash for a place which can not be rented the first year. One board member (out of 5) said that exceptions were done when it was a financial issue. Another board member said that he would support me and that it was very likely that the President of the board would support me because the building is in dire need of money. I went to the office and told them that I had 3 of the 5 board members who supported me. The office said that they still needed to have a meeting that it was not automatic. One week later, after their meeting, I bumped into the President of the board. He told me that they were going to allow me to rent the unit right away. They knew that I was not going to buy without this exception. I bought this place because of that verbal contract. The building got thousands of dollars from the sale. And now they are saying that I am not allowed to rent the 1st year. Since it was a foreclosure, I didn't get keys at closing. The office has the keys and they are refusing to give them to me so that I can copy them. They have previously given them to me before and I have made sure that they had correct keys in case of emergencies. I even explained that it would be good for the building in case they need them. The office said, if there is an emergency and we do not have correct keys, we can just break the door.

They are completely irrational in more ways that fit in this blog. I talked to a lawyer and I was told that if I go to court that I would win and they would even have to pay my attorney's fees. Since they are only selectively enforcing the rules (and I have legal written proof) that even if I never had a verbal contract with the President of the board that I would still win. But the building is practically broke and even if I only won $50,000, the building would have to pass a special assessment and I don't want to hurt my neighbors solely because of an irrational board. I have multiple items for which I could sue. I would just prefer not to sue. Three of the five board members are more rational. The only way to contact them is for me to call or email the office and ask to have my message forwarded to them. But non of them answer emails or phone call requests. The sad thing is that I really like the building and many of my neighbors. But the association and some of the employees, just simply make life impossible for many residents. One of the board members even violated the rental restriction rule. He would like to change that rule, but the 2 of the other board members are so loud and rude that they shut him up and he is not strong enough to stand up to them. In fact multiple board members have quit in the past and the same controlling irrational members remain. They run all the others out. I bought this condos because the price was irresistible. But I am to the point were I could just sell them all just to get away. Why do so many boards act like dictators. I could understand if they were acting on behalf of the majority of owners. But they are not and they don't care. They are supposed to be there to represent us not to be dictators. SO TRULY VERY FRUSTRATED.

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Very simple is sue since none of your wonderful neighbors are willing to take a stand on your behalf.You are right that selective enforcement of rules is a win situation in Florida so go for it. Your fellow owners aere allowing these things to take place so they receive what they give.

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 6:52 AM by Marv Bachman

Seems you have a 'vested right' to rent the condo in first year. I consider it unacceptable to with-hold the keys if you own the property. If the Board is not willing to accept reasonably then I agree with Mary - Sue. 
Is there an arbitration clause in the Associations rules and regs?

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 7:10 AM by TonD

The board has no right to keep the key. That is your condo. You can sue every member of that board both personally and as a board. They have a fiduciary responsibility according to FL law to ensure that each unit owner is treated equally. Call Catherine Evanoff at the FL Ombudsman's office and get the exact details 850.922.7671. Your rights are being obstructed.

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 7:50 AM by artDicicco

Very strange story. What's the other side? Why are the Board Members hostile to you? I'd like to hear their side of the story.

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:01 AM by Jimmy Knock

Read the Florioda Condominium Act. You will probably find there is a well defined procedure that must be followed to change a rule. Usually it requires approval of a majority of the unit owners. A Board on iots own volition may not arbitrariluy change a rule nor make an exception to a rule. 
Such a cklause woukd fit your situation like a glove.

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:28 AM by Scott

??? Do you not have Board Meetings? If so then put your question to a vote but be sure your request is in writing and put on the Agenda. If 3 of 5 Board members agree with you then you should have no trouble. Additionally, if a meeting is/was held BE THERE to explain & protect your position. Why were you not given keys at closing, certainly the Bank had them. If the previous owner owned the Board monies, then FL limits them to certain compensation. If this unit was in foreclosure, then were debts not cleared? Verbal contract - it's worth the paper its written on. Now perhaps there's more to the story, but if your legal counsel says sue - then do so. You may wish to bring this to the attention of the Board, they may be more reasonable with you. If the Board has some dictators, then vote them out or run yourself, become pro-active. Every Board could use fresh blood and a thoughtful mind.

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 9:05 AM by cebo

Have you considered contacting the police and informing them you are being denied access to you own property and asking them to go with you to get the keys? Bring the deed as proof of ownership. This may be criminal activity. 
Could you move into the new unit and rent out your old one and beat them at their own game since you probably have lived there more thana year?

posted @ Thursday, December 30, 2010 9:18 AM by Condo hater

Condo hater, (love your name), I am with you. Furthermore, call a locksmith. 
Also, from having experience with a similar situation (board breaking the LAWS of the STATE), the HOA insurance will not protect them if they are knowingly and illegally breaking the law and those bully board members can be personally sued. Knowing what I now know, I would 1. Change the locks (you OWN THE UNIT). 2. Rent out the unit or pull a 'condo hater' switch. 3. SUE THEM. So sorry, but I would if they pushed me.  
If you do not PUSH BACK now, they will continue to choke you. They are all p.o.'s because you bought at a fire sale and they did not. They are trying to hurt you financially. Don't let them. What they're doing is completely WRONG and illegal.

posted @ Saturday, January 01, 2011 8:07 AM by Sheri

What is a "condo hater switch?"

posted @ Friday, January 07, 2011 5:18 AM by fried

What's a "condo hater" switch? Move into the new unit and rent out your old one and beat them at their own game since you probably have lived there more than a year.

posted @ Friday, January 07, 2011 6:33 AM by Sheri

In my opinion these board members are not acting in the best interest of the association. Furthermore last year legislation was passed requiring board members to certify that they attended continuing education classes or sign a document stating that they have read their docs in their entirety and understand what they have read. Obviously these board members have done neither. I would send a certified letter to the management office requesting copies of these affidavits. If they cannot show proof that these rules were followed they cannot hold a position on a condo board. 
There are so many irregularities here that I don't have the time nor space to list them all. My first question is do you own legal title to this unit? I am in no way giving you legal advice. These are only my opinions. If I owned a property and the bank did not give me keys at closing, I would simply hire a locksmith, change the locks and give a copy of the keys to the management office as required by Florida law.  

posted @ Saturday, January 15, 2011 11:33 AM by Jeff Lowe

Thank you so much for your comments. I actually wrote approximately 60 other owners and explained my issue. I told them that I did not want to sue my neighbors, but that the board’s actions were forcing me to do so. 
Even though, I needed to stay in Denver for surgery, I flew to Miami for the board meeting. 
During the board meeting I asked for a vote. They refused. They said that they were going to contact their attorney for an opinion. 
The board President told me to wait until the week after (this week) for an answer. 
This week I approached him and he said that they were still waiting for a response from their attorney. I asked, why don't they take a vote? He said that maybe they should force the issue against the 2 other board members. However, during the board meeting he stated that they had considered a vote, but because I wrote other owners to complaint about the board that they changed their mind. There are 3 out of the 5 board members who are reasonable. However, it is beyond my comprehension why they would not force the issue now. Why would they risk getting sued, when that would mean that they would have to pay their attorneys, my attorneys, my loss of rental income and multiple punitive damages against the building, individual board members and employees. Are they that arrogant that they think they can win even while breaking the law. Or, are they just lazy and don’t want to do their own research after I spoon fed them the whole court case.  
These arrogant people forget that the only reason they were ever on the board is because in the past no one wanted to volunteer to be a part of the board. Two of them have stated to me that they are above the law. They stated this with other witnesses present. 
The President of the board asked why I had not contacted them first before sending an email to others. I explained that I sent him emails which he did not reply. He said that I had contacted another board member and he did not reply because I had already been in contact with the other board member.  
During the meeting I told him that my multiple contact attempts for him were a month before and he did not reply. I also left multiple messages with the building’s office for him to call me. The office said that they gave him the messages but she cannot force him to respond.  
So now I am confused as to why they want me to wait for a response. I am being a nice guy, by not suing them. I am choosing not to sue in order not to hurt my neighbors and not to hurt the members of the board. I think in their muddled way of thinking, they are under the impression that they may be right. 
All the laws are on the internet and I provided them with half of the case in writing. I did this in an attempt to save the building (my neighbors) money and to avoid the individual board members and employees from being on the losing end of an expensive lawsuit. They must think that they have some power which they don’t. It would be so easy for them to check the law.  
Who knows what is in their heads. 
For the person who commented that they must have something against me. I am not sure what they could have against me. I bought my condos cheaper than most other condos. Maybe that is what they are angry about. However, the whole state of Florida has bargains. I chose to buy here because I already owned one condo and since there were foreclosures which were not paying monthly dues, I thought I would help by buying more units. That is why I now own 5 in the same building. 
Or maybe they don’t like me because I am gay. During the meeting someone stood up and said something about me not getting laid by a girl blah blah blah. And then someone else stood up and said that I should go back from where I came from. 
Or maybe some of the board members are mad at me because I have a service animal. I have had 23 surgeries in the last 3.5 years so 3 of my doctors gave me letters stating that I could have a service animal. 
Or maybe they are mad because the last condo I bought owed $50,000 and their attorneys sent an estoppell letter to the bank that the legal amount was $15,000. This is a fight between the foreclosure bank and the building, not me. I explained during the board meeting that whether I had bought it or anyone else had bought it, the amount the building got would be the same. 
Or maybe they are this way with everyone and I just happen to be the only one smart enough to write everything that they say down. I have kept records of all their actions. 
Either way, it just does not make sense. During the meeting there were normal reasonable owners who were on my side and stated that if we have so many foreclosures that it would be better for the building to facilitate these condos to be sold, not to make it harder. There were also owners who commented that the board lied to me and that I should just live with it. The President of the board even admitted during the meeting that he had promised to me that I would be allowed to rent it. 
So I am just confused. I think on Monday I will have to hire a lawyer.  

posted @ Friday, January 28, 2011 11:37 PM by maurice kafati-batarse

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