A former legislator in Vladimir Putin’s political party who resigned his post under pressure is suing a South Florida developer over allegedly faulty construction at his $7 million condo in Sunny Isles Beach.
The displeased buyer, Alexey Knyshov, says his brand-new unit at the Mansions at Acqualina has a leaky window and faulty fire sprinkler that caused water damage and mold in the 17th-floor apartment and led to health problems for his two young daughters, according to a complaint filed Monday in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.
The suit alleges breach of contract, fraud and misleading advertisement by Acqualina developer Jules Trump (no relation to Donald Trump), among other charges.
Trump denies the accusations. “It’s a hold-up job,” he told the Miami Herald.
Knyshov claims that soon after he and his family moved into the three-bedroom apartment in January, water began seeping in through the window of his daughters’ bedroom during a rainstorm, damaging the floor. A building representative told Knyshov that “the building is aware about the issue which is present in every apartment, and work will be done soon,” according to the suit. But the leaks kept happening, including during Hurricane Matthew.
Knyshov also said the fire sprinkler in a master bathroom suddenly came to life one afternoon, “sending foul-smelling black water gushing into the [unit] at a rapid rate.”
Later, he alleges that a pipe burst inside the master bedroom closet, soaking the floor and ruining custom wallpaper, for which the developer refused to reimburse him. The air in the apartment grew stifling and redolent with mold, causing Knyshov, his wife and children to suffer difficulty breathing, burning eyes and congestion, the suit says.
In court filings, Knyshov and his family describe the situation as a “nightmare.” They say they haven’t been able to spend a comfortable night in the condo since the problems began and ended up moving out.
It’s the most illogical thing you ever saw. Jules Trump
Responding to the allegations, Trump said contractors hired by Knyshov were the ones who damaged the fire sprinkler, causing a major flood. He said Acqualina workers made repairs. Trump also said that a leak one floor up from Knyshov’s unit damaged his condo and several others, but that workers fixed the damage to the satisfaction of the owners — except Knyshov, who refused to let a crew into his apartment.
“He denied us access to the unit and sent us a number of letters indicating that he was going to go to the press about faulty construction while he wouldn’t let us in to make repairs,” Trump said.
The developer said Knyshov asked for $360,000 in damages.
“It’s the most illogical thing you ever saw,” said Trump, who insisted the damage to Knyshov’s unit was not extensive. “We take our relationships with customers very seriously.”
In addition to Trump, the suit targets builder Coastal Construction Group of South Florida, AQ Property Management and the condo association of the Mansions at Acqualina, located at 17749 Collins Ave.
In a statement, Coastal executive Dan Whiteman wrote: “Coastal Construction is working closely with the developer and the individual unit owner to remedy the issues and to determine the exact cause of the damage.”
One thing not mentioned in the lawsuit: Knyshov briefly served in the State Duma, Russia’s lower legislative chamber, as a member of United Russia, Putin’s political party. But he resigned in 2012 after less than a year in office amid accusations that he illegally headed two construction firms in his native city of Rostov-on-Don. Russian legislators are not allowed to run businesses while holding office.
“I have made the difficult decision to leave the Duma,” Knyshov said, according to the Moscow Times
. He denied wrongdoing.
David Wolff, Knyshov’s attorney in the condo case, said his client had no comment on the political controversy. (The suit describes Knyshov as a “successful Russian businessman” who comes from humble beginnings.)
Russian buyers have flocked to Sunny Isles Beach in such numbers the city is sometimes called “Little Moscow.”
Trump is one of the largest developers
in the area. His projects include the neighboring 51-story Acqualina Resort & Spa hotel, which consistently wins top ratings
from travel guides.
The Mansions at Acqualina, where a penthouse was listed for $50 million, are described in marketing materials as “the world’s finest residences.” Trump is now developing a new project called the Estates at Acqualina
, where he says sales have stayed strong despite a struggling market
for luxury condos in South Florida.
He did not develop the nearby Trump Towers
, which are named after the better-known Donald.