Home Heartbreak: Widow faces financial, emotional stress after fire at Sunny Isles Beach condo

(WSVN) - An 89-year-old South Florida man says he is now facing extreme financial and emotional stress and blames it all on his condo association. For more than two years, he hasn’t lived in his condo and is losing hope he’ll ever move back. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has our special report: Home Heartbreak.

Vladimir Sachnowski has been through a lot in his 89 years.

Vladimir Sachnowski: “I’m good man. I’m a Holocaust survivor.”

But he’s beginning to wonder if he’ll survive what he is now battling.

On Dec. 7, 2017 while he was cooking in his Sunny Isles Beach condo, hot oil spilled and fast-moving flames engulfed his home.

Vladimir escaped, but Nina, his wife of 68 years, was trapped inside.

Vladimir was desperate to go back in and save the love of his life but couldn’t.

Vladimir Sachnowski, condo owner: “The fire department, they told me, ‘Don’t go inside because you dead too.”

Nina was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later.

After the fire destroyed his condo and his life, Vladimir moved into this apartment down the street.

Vladimir’s insurance company paid to clean up the smoke damage, but he can’t move back in until more repair work is done.

Anatoli Sachnowski, Vladimir’s son: “The condo is not livable. It’s a shell. We assumed that the condo would get fixed.”

Vladimir and his son Anatoli blame the condo association of Winston Towers 500 for the unfinished work.

They’ve hired attorney Douglas Stratton, who has now filed suit against the association.

Douglas Stratton: “This is the last resort that he had.”

The suit claims the the association “is responsible for repairing common elements like the exterior walls, wiring and windows.”

Douglas Stratton: “You have your own insurance policy to cover what’s inside and all of the built in furniture and the floor coverings and the draperies, but everything else is the responsibility of the association.”

Fourteen months after the fire, it looked like the association was going to fix the unit.

The board signed this contract in February of last year approving $66,759 worth of work in Vladimir’s unit, but it was never done.

A few months later, it approved a new contract for more than $77,000 worth of repairs, but again, now more than two years after the fire, Vladimir says the work hasn’t started.

Vladimir Sachnowski: “I don’t want this aggravation. For what?”

Anatoli Sachnowski: “They’re making an honest man suffer for no reason.”

Neither the president of the Winston Towers 500 Association or its legal team would speak to us on camera, but court documents show they argue negligence is to blame for the fire, and that should relieve at least some of their responsibility to fix the common elements.

Vladimir Sachnowski: “I’m tired already.”

Vladimir says he’s nearly broke paying $1,300 a month for this apartment on top of his maintenance and assessment fees for the condo.

Vladimir Sachnowski: “If nobody help me, I bring my citizenship, I put it on the table and say, ‘Goodbye, America.'”

Vladimir still visits his condo often.

Despite all the heartbreak here, there’s nothing more he wants than to be back here at home.

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