Can’t Rent Rental

WSVN — You live in an association, then one day the association says, “we are not changing the rules. We are going to enforce the old rules that we have not enforced and you have to live by them,” or do you? It’s why one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Ten years ago, David Dominiak bought a townhouse to rent out in Coconut Creek.

David Dominiak: “An investment property. Everything’s run fairly smooth for 10 years.”

The main reason David bought at Village of Blue Lakes: the association allowed the owner to rent their unit, which some associations won’t allow.

David Dominiak: “So that was the sole purpose to purchasing here because you were allowed to be an owner and rent out your property.”

Since 1992, the association has had a rule that only 29 units could be rented at any given time. But they never enforced their rule.

Then last Fall, they sent this letter letting owners know they were going to enforce their 29 unit rental policy.

David Dominiak: “And I received no notification of changes. I have received no notification of violations that I have made.”

Then in the middle of August, David got this letter from the association reminding him that only 29 units could be rented out and that David’s unit was not one of the 29.

David Dominiak: “And in order for me to get approval for the tenant to live here, I had to evict my tenant, get written approval from the board and then be put on a waiting list to be able to re-rent my unit and it would not be that easy.”

That means David’s tenant will be evicted and without the rental income, he won’t be able to afford his townhouse. He says it’s not the way an association should treat a long-time owner.

David Dominiak: “As long as I’ve owned the property, my homeowners association fees have always been on time. Any assessments have always been paid in full, on time and I’ve always had a unit that was occupied with a tenant.”

Well Howard, can an association enforce a rule they have ignored for years, forcing an owner to break a lease with a tenant and throw them out?

Howard Finkelstein: “An association cannot suddenly enforce a rule that they have been ignoring. To enforce the rule, first they have to republish the rule, then mail that to the owners at the address they provide. Then they can begin to enforce the old rule again.”

The association’s attorney said they mailed the notification to David and we also saw the notice posted in a display case on the property. David says he didn’t get the letter or see the display case.

He then went to the board meeting to plead his case. Turns out he was lucky. As of that night, only 28 owners had received approval to rent.

Rhonda Hollander: “It’s first come, first serve. There is no bearing on who you are.”

Only owners were allowed in to the meeting, but David was in decent shape since one more owner could rent.

The boards attorney, Rhonda Hollander, told us if David submitted the proper paperwork immediately, she would talk to the board for him.

Rhonda Hollander: “I will ask them to hold off on removing the tenants even though a violation is currently in existence. If we can get it approved and there is an opening, no problem.”

Rhonda did as she promised. David filled out the paperwork.

David Dominiak: “They did say they would accept my application.”

A few days later, the application was approved. David’s renter can stay.

Patrick Fraser: “At the Village of Blue Lakes, they notified the owners and started enforcing an old rule that was already on the books. They can do that, but if they changed a rule or amended one and tried to enforce it, they would have a problem because the old owners would be grandfathered in and would not have to abide by that new rule.”

Own a problem you want to evict? Think a new lease on life will help? Contact us. We don’t make rules. We just make sure they are enforced the right way.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN