MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Those who live in one Miami Beach apartment building say they’re beyond fed up.
There are a host of problems where they live, and they’re pointing the finger at their high-profile landlord.
Leo Cattani, lives in building: “We came here, they said they were going to fix it. They came once, laid down this blue tape, and never came again.
Kevin Ozebek: “You moved here two years ago?”
Leo Cattani, lives in building: “Yeah.”
For two years, Leo Cattani has stared at his second-floor balcony that he cannot use.
From inside his unit, you can see the balcony is blocked off. From the outside, you can clearly see why.
Kevin Ozebek: “So you pay $1500 a month for this balcony?”
Leo Cattani, lives in building: “For a broken balcony, and not to mention the elevator, too.”
Kevin Ozebek: “Does the elevator work?”
Ramiro Picos, lives in building: “No, hasn’t worked in a while.”
Ramiro Picos lives on the fourth floor. He says the elevator has been broken for months, so every day, he takes the stairs.
And thanks to this video he shared with us, you can see what an unpleasant experience the climb up and down can be when it rains.
Ramiro Picos, lives in building: “There’s frustration for sure.”
Inside Ramiro’s unit, he showed us this hole in the ceiling of his son’s bedroom.
Ramiro Picos, lives in building: “Every time it rains, I have to put a bucket right here.”
Ramiro and Leo live in The Lois, a Miami Beach apartment building owned by Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.
Kevin Ozebek: “How can the people of Surfside know you’re going to lead the town when so many people have questions about their building when your building looks like this?”
Mayor Charles Burkett: “When you say looks like that, that is kind of a mischaracterization. Because the bottom line is that damage needs to be fixed, but it doesn’t get fixed until you have permits.”
Mayor Burkett says Hurricane Irma knocked over this tree in 2017. It did extensive damage to the building’s balconies and elevator.
Kevin Ozebek: “That was 2017. Why does it still look like this today?”
Mayor Charles Burkett: “Because we’re waiting for the permits. The City has taken the position that somehow we haven’t submitted the plans. But the plans have been submitted over and over, so there’s some confusion here.”
Kevin Ozebek: “When you say there’s confusion, is the City of Miami Beach slowing the repair?”
Mayor Charles Burkett: “I don’t think they are slowing on purpose, I think.”
Kevin Ozebek: “No, is the City of Miami Beach slowing down the repairs of this building?”
Mayor Charles Burkett: “They’re the reason we don’t have the permits.”
But in a statement to 7Investigates, Miami Beach says drawings for repairs on The Lois submitted in 2019 “were not construction drawings, which is what the Florida Building Code requires for a permit review.”
And that the city had to refer The Lois to a special magistrate that same year because “no action was being taken by the property to make needed repairs.”
Mayor Charles Burkett: “We went in to the Special Master and said, ‘Mr. Special Master, the reason we’re not acting is not because we don’t want to, it’s because we need to do this, this and this,’ and he said, ‘OK, that is fine. Come back in 90 days and give me an update,’ and that’s what we’ve done since the very beginning.
But just last week, Miami Beach slapped this “final notice” on The Lois for “non-compliance” and ordered balcony railings to be secured within 24 hours.
Mayor Charles Burkett: “So what this was, was the building official felt like it was important to do something, and I respect that. I get that.”
Mayor Burkett says he is now just waiting on one more permit before he can fix the balconies.
Mayor Charles Burkett: “There’s nothing I want more than to start working. They’re paid for! I paid for everything. All we need to do is get permission from the city.”
For those who call The Lois home, the fixes cannot come fast enough.
Ramiro Picos, lives in buildingf: “It’s unacceptable. Unacceptable.”
Leo Cattani, lives in building: “As a matter of fact, a couple of months ago in the middle of the pandemic, they raised our rent. They raised it like a hundred bucks. I just feel in the aftermath of the recent building collapse on Collins, I just feel like he should … think a little bit more about this building.”
Mayor Burkett told us the pandemic set construction behind because the contractor couldn’t work.
He hopes to have that final permit soon and begin working on these balconies in September.
As for the leaks Ramiro told us he’s seen, Mayor Burkett says the roof is new, so there may be an issue with the window.
And the mayor says the rainwater in the staircase is from doors being left open.
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