Aventura homeowner at odds with new association over walkway

(WSVN) - Ah, the life in an association. One homeowner says the board is making him take up his walkway while letting other walkways stay. He calls it selective enforcement. Can they do that to him? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Daniel and Bethany had a 3-year-old when she got pregnant with Alex. You know what that means: a bigger house.

Daniel Farago: “We like the aspect, that this property was on the marina, that we can go out there and walk.”

A few feet from their back door is a walkway around the marina. A nice place for a family.

Daniel Farago: “These don’t come up for sale very often, so once it came up for sale, we took the opportunity to purchase it.”

When they bought the home at La Mirage in Aventura, a small area behind their house was not paved.

Daniel Farago: “Without that walkway, after it rains, it gets very muddy, it gets dangerous. It could be a slip-and-fall incident.”

Since it’s the common area, Daniel and a neighbor both filled out an application for permission to put down these pavers — and got it.

Daniel Farago: “They did correct.”

Patrick Fraser: “In writing?”

Daniel Farago: “In writing, by the president.”

Fast forward a year. A new board is running the associations at La Mirage, and said the walkway was installed illegally.

Daniel Farago: “The association was saying that I never received approval.”

Daniel thought, no problem, and showed them the approval, signed by the prior board president.

He then got a letter from the board’s attorney.

Daniel Farago: “He said I fraudulently signed or forged the president’s signature to obtain approval.”

Being accused of forgery irritated Daniel, but again, no problem. The prior president wrote that’s his “authentic signature.” It’s “not a forgery,” and the “association approved the walkways.”

Daniel Farago: “A hundred percent. We thought it would be all done.”

Nope. Daniel says he was told the pavers were now illegal because he needed approval from the majority of the 88 residents living at La Mirage.

Daniel Farago: “It’s not in the bylaws, so they made this up.”

Daniel says other people have put in pavers like he did, making it clear to him what’s going on: selective enforcement.

Daniel Farago: “About 60 to 75 out of the 88 units in this community have either a walkway in the front that they repaved on a common element or in the back. However, all those have stayed or remained.”

Well, Howard, the board is telling Daniel to remove pavers approved by a prior board president but letting other pavers in the common area stay. Can they do that?

Daniel Farago: “It may surprise you, but one board can reverse the decisions of a prior board. However, no board has the right to selectively enforce the rules against other homeowners. If a walkway built in the common area, whether in the front of the back of the home, is acceptable for some residents, it has to be acceptable for all of the residents. That means Daniel’s walkway can return.”

A La Mirage board member told me that the former president did not tell the board he was approving the walkway and should have, that they wanted everyone to look the same.

When Daniel refused to remove what he considered a legal walkway, the association hired workers to take them away. The pavers are now sitting on the side of another resident’s house.

The board’s attorney didn’t want to talk to me, but in a letter to Daniel denied any selective enforcement or discrimination against him.

Daniel says he will not give up and now feels he has to fight back and take the board to arbitration.

Howard Finkelstein: “If Daniel goes to arbitration and wins, the board not only has to pay to replace his walkway, and they have to pay his attorney’s fees. But if he loses, he has to pay the board’s attorney’s fees.”

As Daniel prepares to fight back, he sees why many residents don’t battle their boards.

Daniel Farago: “They are using the community’s money to pay for arbitration, and we’re using our personal money. So for them it’s easy; for us it’s hard.”

If Daniel wins in arbitration, the board could refuse to reinstall his walkway, but he would argue, to avoid being selective, they’d have to make every resident tear up the walkways they installed in front of their house.

What happens when Daniel to arbitration against his board? We’ll follow him and let you know.

Heading down a walkway paved with problems? Ready to install a solution? Be selective and contact us, so we can create a path for a common-sense approach for you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.