Refused a reason for rejection

(WSVN) - He is an outspoken renter at a South Florida condo — and when he tried to renew a lease, the board rejected his application. Why? They won’t tell him, but he knows and he wants to know, is it illegal to refuse to reveal why a renter is being rejected? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When we caught up with Ken Fobes, he was recovering from a hip replacement…

Ken Fobes, rejected for no reason: “I feel wonderful. Had I known this was this easy, I would have done it a year ago.”

Ken’s hip felt great, but he did have a pain in another part of his body…

Ken Fobes: “Yeah, exactly.”

For the past seven years, Ken has rented a condo at Heritage Landings in Fort Lauderdale.

Ken Fobes: “And they approved me and I moved in.”

Ken then recently moved from one condo to another … and had to fill out another application.

Ken Fobes: “They turned me down, as I expected that they would.”

Why turn down a man good enough to live here for seven years, but not now?

Ken and his landlord asked the property manager. All they would say is the board has experienced issues with the applicant. Ken asked, “What issues?”

Patrick Fraser: “They won’t tell you why they turned you down.”

Ken Fobes: “No.”

Ken says the reasons are obvious.

Ken Fobes: “I know exactly why. It’s because of my opposition to the rogue board.”

For years, Ken was on the association board and knows the rules and regulations. The current board, he says, does not.

Ken Fobes: “Not holding meetings, not releasing financial data.”

Ken and several other owners have openly criticized the Heritage Landings Board. You may remember one example from a prior story we aired on 7News.

The condo board charged each owner $3,500 to redo the dock and seawall … then rented dock space to a company that put three large yachts here, blocking many residents’ views…

Resident: “Now we have people on the first and second floor that cannot see waterways.”

The bottom line, many residents are unhappy, but Ken says they don’t want to go on camera, complain and risk retaliation. Ken is not afraid, but he says since the board can’t shut him up, they want to kick him out.

Ken Fobes: “I don’t enjoy being a target, but I enjoy even less seeing my good friends targeted, and that’s what really bothers me.”

Well Howard, Ken has been a long time renter. Can a board now refuse to approve his application and refuse to tell him why?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No, and no. Ken has been living here for seven years. Nothing has changed, making it appear to be what the law calls an arbitrary decision, which is illegal. And the board won’t tell Ken or his landlord why they are rejecting him, and that’s a violation of Broward County law. If they won’t straighten it out, Ken needs to file a complaint with the county.”

I called the property manager several times … no one would call me back. In an email to Ken, the manager said the board told her Ken’s application was denied. The condo president and vice president told me they knew nothing about Ken’s application being denied, to call their attorney.

I did. He didn’t return calls or emails.

We then contacted Broward’s Human Rights section … they stepped in, took a complaint from Ken and sent a demand letter to the Heritage Landing Board to get the answers for Ken.

Howard Finkelstein: “The next step for Ken, sue the board for what is called tortious interference with contract, which could be costly for the board. And by the way, since he is already in the condo, they have to sue for eviction and that could take months.”

And months are what Ken is looking for. His suggestion? Let him heal from this hip replacement surgery, get the other hip replaced next month, and after that he will leave to make the board happy.

Ken Fobes: “And it would be so easy for them to just ignore me and leave me here for six months. Then I am going to leave.”

Ken has options — and unless the board wants to spend a lot of money to fight him, he can probably stay in the condo ’til he heals.

Now in Broward, an association has to tell you why they are refusing to let you rent or buy a property, but other counties don’t have that ordinance. Maybe they should think about it to protect renters and buyers.

Facing a problem that’s just been disclosed to you? Don’t retaliate. Let us reiterate the law for you. We aren’t hip, but we can help you operate a little easier. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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