Author Archives: Beanie

FLORIDA – $7.5M Verdict Against Condo Association Should Have Been Prevented

CCFJ.NET: $7.5M Verdict Against Condo Association Should Have Been Prevented
 
 

Article Courtesy of The Daily Business Review
By Michael L. Hyman

Published September 28, 2018


While recreational amenities such as pools and hot tubs significantly add to the appeal of condominium and homeowners association communities, they also come with major liability risks that must be mitigated by the use of effective safety and maintenance measures. The recent $7.5 million verdict for a St. Petersburg, Florida, condominium resident to compensate him for the injuries that he sustained in his community’s hot tub is a telling example of the potential ramifications that can result when any defects in the working condition of these amenities are not properly addressed.

In 2008, Ehab Mina was about to step into the hot tub at the Boca Ciega Resort & Marina Condominium when he became startled to see that it was partially drained. The problem in the hot tub caused the 44-year-old to slip, and he badly injured his right shoulder and spine.

Mina required multiple surgeries, and he was ultimately forced to sell his boat-building business as a result of his injuries. He filed suit against the association and its property management company, Condos by Sirata Inc., alleging that the hot tub should have had a posted warning and adequate lighting in the evening hours.

The attorneys for the condominium association responded by arguing that the half-empty hot tub was an obvious condition, but the jury found the association and its management company to be jointly liable. It awarded a $7.56 million verdict to Mina.

For the unit owners, this verdict could present significant financial repercussions, especially if the association and management company general liability insurance policies’ limits are insufficient to cover the entire amount of the verdict. In that event, the association will be compelled to pass a special assessment, and its insurance premiums are likely to rise, leading to a substantial financial burden for all of the owners.

The expensive lesson for the association in this case is an important one for all Florida community associations and their property managers. Associations must apply reasonable vigilance in maintaining and inspecting all community recreational amenities. An association’s obligations include regularly scheduled periodic inspections followed by performing all of the necessary maintenance and replacement procedures to ensure that all amenities and equipment are kept in safe working condition. In addition, user weight and size restrictions, or limitations on the hours during which amenities may be used, could also help to potentially limit legal liability should an injury occur. Read more:

ccfj.net/condoMill$Avoid.html

FLORIDA – Debts Pile Up in Poinciana Villages HOA

CCFJ.NET:  Debts Pile Up in Poinciana Villages HOA

Article Courtesy of The Ledger

By Mike Ferguson

Published September 22, 2018

  
POINCIANA — More than 10 percent of the homeowners who make up the Association of Poinciana Villages are delinquent with association dues and the homeowners say they’re not sure where to go from here.

The Association of Poinciana Villages (APV) is a homeowners’ association of about 27,000 homes that spans parts of Polk and Osceola counties. According to a spokeswoman for APV, more than 3,000 accounts are delinquent.

Residents have until Jan. 15 each year to pay at least the monthly amount of $23 or the annual amount of $276 — an increase of $24 from the previous year. If those are not paid, they’re sent to collections, which residents say creates enormous debts. Often, they’re unable to find who to pay.

Carlos Pastor said that his debt now stands at more than $3,500. Pastor said he was sent a letter by APV that his outstanding dues had been passed on to collections and was charged about $300 for the letter to be sent.

Pastor said he tried to pay the outstanding balance, but the HOA wouldn’t accept it. He claims to have tried to pay the collections company, McCabe Law Group, via mail, but it claimed to have never received the payment. Pastor said he had lived at his home since 2000 without ever being late until 2016.

“I just want to pay it,” Pastor said. “It’s crazy. I don’t mind living in an HOA but do something for me. I want to get this thing settled, but c’mon, be fair.”

Residents say the HOA used to give a 90-day grace period. Tabatha Bucci said her child had medical issues between January 2017 and last summer, which forced her to run back and forth between Nemours in Orlando and home.

In April of that year, she tried to pay the $63 and $5 for a late fee that she owed for the prior three months but was sent a letter obtained by The Ledger that showed the $68 deducted from $657 in assessments. In addition to the then-annual $252 fee, she was charged $375 in attorney’s fees to prepare a lien against the property and a debt verification letter among other charges. Read more:

http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLPoincDebtsPile.html

FLORIDA – Private Beaches In Florida Spark Battle With Residents And County

CCFJ.NET:   Private Beaches In Florida Spark Battle With Residents And County
Article Courtesy of NPR
By Greg Allen
Published September 13, 2018
Santa Rosa Beach, in Florida’s Walton County, is a quiet place with sugar-white sand, a pleasant surf and signs warning visitors to stay out. The largely rural county on Florida’s Panhandle is at the center of a battle over one of the state’s most precious resources: its beaches. Most of the 26 miles of beaches are already privately owned. As of July 1, homeowners with beachfront property in Walton County can declare their beach private and off-limits to the public. The new law has sparked a standoff between wealthy homeowners and other local residents.
In Walton County and in Tallahassee, where Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law, an earlier version of the bill was known as the “Huckabee amendment.” Fox News commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a beachfront house in Santa Rosa Beach. Since the bill went into effect, opponents of the law have speculated about Huckabee’s role in getting it passed.

In January emails to Kathleen Passidomo, the bill’s sponsor in Florida’s Senate, Huckabee thanked her for helping protect property rights from what he called ” ‘customary use’ abuse.”

“Having grown up dirt poor in Arkansas, I never thought I would see saltwater in person, much less live on a beach,” Huckabee writes. But he says he has been appalled at what he has found on his beach property. “I’ve found used condoms on my walk-down, glass bottles broken, dog feces, litter. Sharp tent poles that can cut bare feet and worse. Large tents with large groups with boom boxes make using my own property very difficult during high season.”  Read more:

http://www.ccfj.net/condoPrivBeachBattle.html

CALIFORNIA – Assembly approves Wieckowski bill to rein in HOA election abuses

SD10.SENATE.CA.GOV: Assembly approves Wieckowski bill to rein in HOA election abuses
Senator Bob Wieckowski
August 28, 2018

SACRAMENTO – The state Assembly today approved a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to rein in election abuses in California’s more than 55,000 homeowner associations (HOA).  Senate Bill 1265 now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote before being sent to Governor Brown.

“Today’s Assembly approval sends a clear signal that the Legislature recognizes not only the critical role HOA boards play, but the impact they have on millions of Californians’ homes and pocketbooks,” said Sen. Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Housing and Transportation Committee. “By adding safeguards to the system, SB 1265 will restore fairness and integrity to the board election process and end abuses in communities where boardmembers are more interested in maintaining power than faithfully following the association’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions.”  Read more:

NATIONAL – Inside the scandal that could explode multifamily real estate

HOUSINGWIRE.COM: Inside the scandal that could explode multifamily real estate
By Ben Lane
August 17, 2018
Everything is going swimmingly in multifamily real estate these days, right? Rents keep rising, construction is still chugging along, deals are being made, and delinquencies are still at historic lows. So everything’s good, right? Maybe not.
It appears there could be a deep, dark secret at the core of multifamily lending that could destroy the market. And in a truly sad bit of irony, the secret could be very similar to the one that crushed the single-family housing market 10 years ago.

Fake residents, fake incomes, and inflated mortgages. Sound familiar?

The details of all of this come courtesy of a blockbuster report released this week by the Wall Street Journal.

The report details how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency are in the middle of an investigation that the WSJ calls “one of the biggest mortgage-fraud probes since the financial crisis.”

The whole WSJ article is definitely worth reading (if you have a subscription, that is), as the article extensively details some pretty brazen fraud allegations involving the loans backing approximately $1.5 billion in mortgage securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

According to the article, the investigation has already led to an indictment against four individuals for allegedly conspiring to falsify loan information in order to obtain more than $167 million in multifamily loans.

The indictments, which were disclosed earlier this summer, allege that Frank Giacobbe, Patrick Ogiony, Kevin Morgan, and Todd Morgan conspired to defraud Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Arbor Commercial Mortgage, and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage by faking much of the information that the lenders and government-sponsored enterprises count on when issuing or buying the mortgages.  Read more:

MARYLAND – Inside one Maryland community, a fight to save backyard basketball hoops

The Washington Post:  Inside one Maryland community, a fight to save backyard basketball hoops
By Jacob Bogage, Staff writer
August 22, 2018
When the violation notice from the neighborhood homeowners’ association first arrived in Sam Sheth’s mailbox, he thought it was a joke. He thought someone had gotten hold of letterhead and made up some sort of phony new rule about the basketball hoop outside his single-family home, one he has used in the same neighborhood for nearly a decade.

When the second notice came, which identified the hoop as “portable play equipment,” he thought it was a mistake. And when the third notice came, this time threatening a fine, he laughed and threw it away.

Residents in Howard County’s Maple Lawn subdivision, a planned community built in 2005 near Routes 29 and 32, are fighting to save basketball hoops that have adorned driveways, back alleys and front yards for years but have recently become a source of tension.  Read more:

NEVADA – Mastermind behind Las Vegas HOA defraud scheme sentenced

CCFJ.NET:  Mastermind behind Las Vegas HOA defraud scheme sentenced

Article Courtesy of Channel 8 — Las Vegas Now

By George Knapp and Matt Adams

Published August 19, 2018

LAS VEGAS – The largest political corruption case in southern Nevada came to an end Friday with the re-sentencing of the ringleader. The scheme focused of seizing control of local homeowner associations and involved dozens of co-conspirators including lawyers, retired police officers, and others.

Former construction company owner Leon Benzer will serve 12 more years in federal prison for crimes that were first reported by the I-Team.

Las Vegas has seen a lot of political corruption cases, but never something this big.

Forty defendants were sentenced. Most of them pleaded guilty, Leon Benzer, the ringleader, was the last to be sentenced, and in the front row of the courtroom Friday were the two investigators who started the ball rolling — a Metro detective and a former FBI agent. They wanted to be there for the end.   Read more:

NORTH CAROLINA – Concord HOA admits residents’ cars shouldn’t have been towed

WSOCTV.COM:  Concord HOA admits residents’ cars shouldn’t have been towed
By Greg Suskin
August 20, 2018

CONCORD, N.C. – Residents at Moss Creek Townhomes in Concord couldn’t believe it when they walked outside Friday and saw their vehicles had been removed. At least eight cars were towed after the homeowners association began enforcing parking rules put in place earlier this year.

No one was given any warning about vehicles being towed in front of their homes. HOA rules require that type of notice must be given to residents.

Tracy Amica ran outside panicked after her husband called for her.

“He was going out to, actually, get a haircut and noticed that his car was gone,” she said.

Monica Smith had just gotten home and saw the tow trucks in the neighborhood.  She parked and went inside her home.

“Not even five minutes later, I come outside to go get dinner with my 7-year-old and my truck is gone,” she said.

According to the HOA, the cars were towed because they didn’t have a neighborhood hanging tag. Parking at moss creek is at a premium. Vehicles are only allowed in the driveway and must have a hanging tag to park on the street.

Karen McDonald with Fort Mill-based property management company Kuester said it is not a new issue. Read more:

FLORIDA – State regulator accused of hijacking condo association he was assigned to investigate

Local 10 News:  State regulator accused of hijacking condo association he was assigned to investigate
By Bob Norman, Investigative Reporter
August 16, 2018

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The state is investigating one of its own now-former regulators after accusations that he abused his power at a condominium he was assigned to investigate, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation confirms.

Eduardo Iglesias duped residents into hiring not only his own association management company, but also his wife as the condo’s attorney after he’d been called by the state to investigate a complaint at El Dorado Plaza West in Hallandale Beach, numerous unit owners and an active lawsuit allege.

“I confronted him one day and I told him you don’t really belong here,” said 88-year-old Jim Silverman, adding, “All he wanted to do was get our money.”

Iglesias was first assigned last year to investigate alleged wrongdoing at El Dorado Plaza West in May 2017, according to DBPR records, but a lawsuit filed by unit owner Robert Petrasek alleges he instead “hijacked” the community association, beginning with an alleged recommendation to the condo board that it hire Anatalia Sanchez as its attorney, which it did. What residents and the lawsuit allege they didn’t know at the time was that Sanchez was the wife of Iglesias.

Sanchez, who did not respond to a message for comment for this story, then cut a deal condo to to provide legal services for the condo beginning on Sept. 30, 2017. The deal called for her law firm to be paid $2,800 a month, not only for legal services, but also for “outsourced” management services. A request that the investigation be terminated was received by the state on Oct. 5, according to state records, but Iglesias’ involvement with the condo was apparently just beginning.

On Oct. 18, the condo board approved the new management company, Real Asset Management, owned by one Edy Quin. Residents said they didn’t know that Quin, licensed community manager, and Iglesias, state condo regulator, were one and the same person: Eduardo Quin Iglesias.  Read more:

CALIFORNIA – Too many California homeowners associations are running amok. Here’s a bill to rein them in.

THE SACRAMENTO BEE:  Too many California homeowners associations are running amok.  Here’s a bill to rein them in.
BY BOB WIECKOWSKI AND DAVE JONES
August 16, 2018

Forty-three years ago this month, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to ensure every American can register to vote and cast a ballot, and to make sure that every vote is counted. Unfortunately those cherished protections have not been extended to some of the most local elections in California.

Elections for the boards of local homeowners associations touch the lives and pocketbooks of millions. But there is little oversight of these contests, and reports of abuse are frequent. That is why the Legislature should pass Senate Bill 1265 to ensure fair elections.

Opinion

California has 55,000 homeowners associations, quasi-governmental entities that have rule-making authority over developments. A development’s covenants, conditions and restrictions set the ground rules for HOA elections, including minimum qualifications for candidates and voters, the voting power of each member, voting periods for elections and restrictions on who handles sealed ballots.  Read more:


https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article216800690.html