Resident Rebellion: Owners fight condo board over association’s deep financial troubles

(WSVN) - Condo problems in South Florida are nothing new, but one complex has such “complex” issues that they’re staging a resident rebellion. The Nightteam’s Brian Entin investigates.

Blue tarps have covered the Magnolia Lane condos in West Kendall for years. The roof is in terrible condition and the tarps are no match for South Florida storms.

Francisco Rodriguez, resident: “When it rains hard, all the water runs down the window and runs into the units.”

Sebastian Toro, resident: “This leak right here, it has ruined some clothes, the sofa.”

But the roof is just a small part of the problem.

Despite owners of the two hundred units paying around $300 a month in condo fees, the complex is in disrepair and the association is broke.

Patrick Morena, resident: “It’s my home and they’re not taking care of it and it’s all because of the board and association.”

Everyone told us, if you want to see the dysfunction just come to a condo board meeting.

So we did. And it was a circus.

Lawyer: “How many people here want these two board members to walk out right now, raise your hands? How many want them to go?”

The room was packed with angry condo owners who have started their own resident rebellion.

Resident: “Why don’t you resign? Haven’t you done enough damage yet?”

Dozens of residents have pooled their money to hire an attorney to fight the board.

Paul Arcia, residents’ attorney: “I have never seen this before in my career where you have the majority, more than the majority — you can see the people in here — they’re all upset. They want the board to resign for various reasons as you have heard here tonight and the board refuses to step down.”

Brian Entin: “The situation out here is complicated, but the main issue is pretty easy to break down. To fix the roof, the association has to pass a $600,000 assessment. The problem is, there is currently a judgment of $2.7 million against the association for not paying bills in the past. So if they pass the assessment, debt collectors could go after all the money and nothing would get fixed.”

Andy Cuevas, condo association’s attorney: “They’re really in a bad financial situation.”

Even the condo board’s own attorney, who was only recently hired, admits the board has dug itself into a hole.

Andy Cuevas, condo association’s attorney: “I don’t want to say that the board was irresponsible, but they didn’t do a good job. I mean, the association wouldn’t have these massive debts if they were doing their job properly.”

Condo owners are organizing a recall to throw out the existing board and start fresh. But even if they do they still have to figure out a way to pay off the condo’s debts, and fix the roof. Oh, and pay the lawyers now required to sort it all out.

Francisco Rodriguez, resident: “I am constantly looking for another place to live, you know to try and get out of here.”

Best case scenario: The board’s attorney said is if he finds a way to negotiate down the debt while also protecting the money meant to fix the roof.

But he said that could take several months.

The neighbors were left fuming.

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