(WSVN) - A South Florida couple is facing hurdles after their landlord refused to let them live together.
Samuel Rodriguez and Yasmine Navas lived together without an issue in Tallahassee when Rodriguez was attending Florida State University.
The couple, who have been dating for five years, ran into problems when they decided to move back to South Florida.
Yasmine bought a condo at Waterside Village in Sunrise.
Yasmine Navas: “And now that we are finally ready and we want to start our journey here in South Florida.”
The first step was getting Samuel approved as her roommate.
Yasmine Navas: “We did a background check. We sent in everything to be done by their rules.”
A 38-page background check on Samuel came back clean as a whistle, but the board, which never met him, refused to let him move in.
Yasmine Navas: “They denied him because they think he is a tenant of ours, and I do not live here with them, so they think he is sub-leasing from us.”
Samuel thought it would be easy to prove they were a couple by showing the property manager their banking information.
Samuel Rodriguez, Can’t Move In: “We went as far as to give them my joint bank account that we have together, to prove that we are together. Then they wanted six months, and we gave them that on the same day.”
But Samuel was still not allowed to move in.
When he visited Yasmine, he got a noted warning stating that his car would be towed.
Clearly, he said, the association doesn’t believe they are a couple.
Samuel Rodriguez: “A little bit of both, I think. Initially, I laughed, and then I realized it’s serious … I have been denied.”
Yasmine’s reaction? Tears that an association can block them from living together.
“Yasmine Navas (crying): “It’s embarrassing to go through this. I don’t think anybody should have to suffer. They have so much power, the homeowners association, over our living circumstances.”
For weeks, Samuel battled the condo association to live with his girlfriend, only to be continuously denied.
Patrick Fraser: “So, basically, you love the right girl at the wrong place.”
Samuel Rodriguez: “Right, pretty much.”
Well, Howard, can an association prevent a boyfriend from living with his girlfriend?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No, because Samuel is not a renter. The association can have rules about renters, but clearly Samuel is the boyfriend who has a spotless record, and obviously their joint checking account proves they are a couple. Legally, what the association is doing here does not make sense. If they won’t back down, Yasmine should sue the association, and when she wins, and she will, they will have to pay her attorney fees plus any damage they have cost her and Samuel.”
Turns out part of the problem — on the application — Yasmine wrote Samuel was a roommate. The association thought that meant he was a renter.
Yasmine said she didn’t say boyfriend because she didn’t think it was their business.
We contacted Waterside Condominium’s attorney, and he sent us a statement that read, “The association strives to equally and fairly enforce and uphold its covenants.”
The attorney also mentioned that Yasmine did not provide the proper information, and she needed to change her address, which she did.
The association then wanted Samuel and Yasmine to sign a document, which stated they were entering a one-year lease.
James Potts, a lawyer, offered to represent them should they decide to sue.
Potts advised them to not sign the document since they were not leasing.
Howard Finkelstein: “If you have a problem with your association you are not alone. Associations are notorious for bullying regardless of what the law says. Like in life, don’t back down from a bully. A lot of lawyers make their living suing associations, so find one.”
Yasmine Navas: “Without you guys, we would have fought this by ourselves and probably lost.”
Yasmine and Samuel are now living together, and after talking to many of her neighbors, Yasmine is going to take another step — try to get elected to the board to help her neighbors.
Yasmine Navas: “I would like to fight for them. I would like everybody here to be treated with respect and to feel welcome.”
Now, if you are having a problem with your association or anyone for that matter, document every step with an email or a letter. That way, if you have to go to court, you can prove what happened.
Couple of problems giving you a headache? Tired of associating with them. Contact us, and we would be happy to give you our approval to help you out.
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