Pavilion from the Ocean

Pavilion from the Ocean

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AMERICA TV-Condo Owners put pressure on Miami Dade Politicians to Stop Corruption at Associations - IN SPANISH

From ReformFL:

"February 22 was the beginning of the end, we are here to stay, we are here to make changes and to make our voice loud and clear, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Politician be aware that if you don't support our fight against corruption we will vote you out in the next elections! Thank you All the media for the support and the coverage of our story and today our voice didn't go unnoticed!"

Demonstration Feb 22 2017 against Corruption in Condo Associations

Demonstration in Government Center in Miami on Feb 22 2017 to support changes in Condo Act to help the owners and eliminate corruptions in Associations, lawyers and Property Managers.

From reformfl Facebook:

"February 22, 2017 was the beginning of the end, we are here to stay, we are here to make changes and to make our voice loud and clear, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Politician be aware that if you don't support our fight against corruption we will vote you out in the next elections! Thank you All the media for the support and the coverage of our story and today our voice didn't go unnoticed!"

"El 22 de Febrero del 2017 fue un gran dia, el principio del fin, hoy nuestras voces fueron escuchadas, hoy nuestras historias tienen nombre y apellido, hoy comenzamos a perder el miedo y a decirle a los políticos que sino apoyan nuestra causa, mañana nos acordaremos que nuestro voto no ira para ellos! Gracias a todos los medios que nos dieron la cobertura para hacernos sentir!"

Mark Your Calendars - February 22, 2017 DEMONSTRATION in support to reform condo law

in support of legislation
to reform condo law (FS 718) 

When: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 8:30 am

Where:  111 NW 1st Street, Miami

             For more information call: 
    (786) 444-2609
 or (786) 261-9992

 or send an email to 

Condo to state: Prosecute former board members for misspent $1 million

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published February 16, 2017

A major West Palm Beach condo association is urging statewide prosecutors to bring charges against former members of its board of directors who, Florida condominium regulators say, misspent more than $1 million of association money.

Dane Leitner, attorney for Whitehall Condominiums of the Villages of Palm Beach Lakes Association Inc., wrote to the Office of the Attorney General Feb. 8, saying association members want criminal charges brought so they can seek restitution for the 20-building, 480-unit complex on Village Boulevard.

As reported Feb. 5 in The Palm Beach Post, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Bureau of Compliance determined that former board members committed “major” civil violations of condo law, giving themselves jobs and salaries, spending association money at casinos and using reserves to cover operating expenses.

“Since 2014, our firm has attempted to inquire about the status of the criminal investigation and help facilitate the investigation with FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and OAG (Office of the Attorney General), but it does not appear that either department has made substantial progress, nor does it seem to be a priority,” Leitner wrote.

The association fears that with more delays, the statute of limitation might elapse on alleged crimes any chance of prosecuting or getting restitution could be impacted, he said. “Time is of the essence.”

The FDLE did investigate the Whitehall violations, forwarded its report to the Office of Statewide Prosecution and is waiting to hear if the prosecutors will bring criminal charges based on the findings, an FDLE official said.

From 2010 to 2015, the board improperly paid directors Vincent Rossi, Charles Keeling and Michael Weadock more than $242,000, according to a letter to the current board from Lead Investigator Harry Hague of the Bureau of Compliance. State law requires that condo officers serve without pay unless the condo documents allow otherwise, he said.

Rossi and Weadock were paid as property managers and Keeling, for security services.

The association also spent an estimated $357,200 “for expenses unrelated to condominium operations,” Hague said. Condo ledgers show those expenses included ATM withdrawals at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J. and the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek.

And the association “diverted” $455,000 from reserves into the operating fund without condo owner approval, he said.

Rossi and Weadock denied wrongdoing. Keeling could not be reached for comment. Weadock, as recently as 2015, also served as president of the Island Towers Inc. condo association in Lantana.

Stop the Sprinklers now : Why the Florida Legislature Needs to Fix Condo Sprinkler-System Problem

For more than a decade older high-rise condominiums throughout Florida have been discussing, debating, and exercising their legal rights with regard to sprinkler system retrofitting requirements. In 2003, the Florida Legislature responded by allowing each community to vote to opt out of sprinklers inside their units and the right to opt out of installing an engineered life safety system (ELSS). Many communities missed the opportunity to exercise this right because they were pressured by their local fire marshals to hire life safety engineers and commence installation of a full sprinkler system at a significant cost to the residents.

In 2010, responding to the outcry from the condominium community, as a member of the Florida House I sponsored House Bill 561 to allow associations the right to opt-out of sprinklers in the common areas and reduced the vote requirement from 2/3 to a simple majority. However, as a compromise, the words “engineered life safety system” were removed from the statute because we were assured that an ELSS system was cost effective, and much less intrusive than the installation of a fire sprinkler system. As a result, associations taking an opt-out vote after July 1, 2010 could not opt out of an ELSS.

Now, fast forward to January 2017. Scores of local fire marshals throughout the Sunshine State are knocking on the doors of high-rise condominiums that previously opted out of sprinklers (and some who opted out of both sprinkler systems AND ELSS) and advising them that they must immediately hire life safety engineers and begin to pull permits to install an ELSS. Many of these same officials are telling high-rise condominiums that an ELSS will actually be MORE expensive and more intrusive to install than a full sprinkler system.

Moreover, there is no clear description of what an ELSS system looks like and some are being told that they will need to install a comprehensive fire sprinkler system to “pass the test,” so to speak.
In 2010, I responded to the requests of the condominium communities across this state. It was our intent to avoid the exact scenarios we are faced with today. The cost to install an ELSS could be in the millions and the impact to elderly residents living on fixed incomes could be devastating.

Where do we go from here?

The 2017 Legislative Session begins on Tuesday, March 7. Representative George Moraitis (R-Fort Lauderdale) has sponsored HB 653 (Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) will sponsor the Senate version) which seeks to address the ELSS problem. This bill would allow older high-rises to opt out of an ELSS and, for those who do not or cannot, provides more time for installation of an ELSS beyond the current 2019 deadline. HB 653 also addresses the confusion that erupted in mid-2016 concerning whether low and mid-rise buildings are required to retrofit and clarifies that they do not. This will be a huge fight against the special interests that profit from this requirement and those that have little evidence that installing an ELSS is necessary for the safety of residents.

It is imperative that our elected officials understand that a promise made must be kept. We promised more than a million Floridians living in older multifamily buildings that were code-compliant at the time they were constructed that they would not have to undergo the financial or operational rigors of retrofitting their buildings. Call it a full sprinkler system, an ELSS, or something else entirely, the fact remains that our condominium residents should not be facing a deadline they thought was in their rear view mirror.

Former State Sen. Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff is a shareholder with Becker Poliakoff, a Fort Lauderdale headquartered law firm, and represents a number of condominium associations throughout Florida on the ELSS issue in Tallahassee.   

Florida State fails to protect condo owners from board fraud, grand jury finds

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By Brenda Medina

The Florida state agency that regulates condominium associations does not work to protect the tens of thousands who live in condos, resulting in extensive fraud, mismanagement and conflicts of interest among the boards and management companies that govern them, according to a Miami-Dade grand jury report issued Monday.
The report noted a special committee of the Florida House of Representatives published similar findings in 2008. “Sadly, nine years later, this jury has listened to testimony from condominium owners similar to the complaints” gathered by the lawmakers back then.

“Unfortunately and almost irrationally, some of the problems seem to have gotten worse,” the report said.

The findings come amid a condo building boom across the state. There are an estimated 1.6 million condos in Florida today — nearly 300,000 more than in 2007 — and 38 percent of them are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Despite this building boom, the state government did not assign additional investigators to look into the thousands of complaints received each year by the DBPR, according to the grand jury. The agency has only 33 investigators statewide for condo issues, and only 12 work in Miami-Dade.

Florida has more than 20,000 licensed condo association managers and more than 2,000 management companies. By contrast, the Division of Regulation within the state agency has only 53 investigators, who regulate all licensed professionals statewide, including thousands not related to condos.

Stephen Lawson, a spokesperson with the agency, said they are reviewing the grand jury report.

“The department takes very seriously its statutory obligations regarding the enforcement of condominiums,” Lawson wrote in an email Monday to the Nuevo Herald.

The report notes the grand jury heard from DBPR employees, but added their testimony was “guarded and strained” and the witnesses appeared with lawyers assigned by the state. In fact, the agency’s general counsel “actually challenged our jurisdiction and authority to conduct this investigation,’’ the report said.

“Unlike other public officers and officials who appeared voluntarily, to obtain the appearance of two DBPR investigators we were required to issue subpoenas,” the report noted.

The grand jury also reported that the DBPR’s “failure to demand that its investigators utilize, or comprehend basic investigative techniques is breathtaking.” One of the investigators who testified repeatedly said he did not know basic information and needed to consult with his supervisor.

Grand jury members said they were shocked to learn that condominium laws and regulations do not include clear definitions of ethical principles as basic as conflict of interests.

The grand jury issued a series of recommendations for changes in state laws to correct some of the principal issues: open access to condo association records; conflicts of interests among members of association boards; fraud in board elections; the powers of election monitors; and the responsibilities of the DBPR.

Also recommended were criminal punishments for condo board members and licensed administrators who act “in bad faith” for their personal profit or are involved in fraudulent activities. And the report noted that the results of condo elections of board members should be nullified if there’s clear evidence of electoral fraud.
State lawmakers from Miami-Dade who are drafting a law to updating current condo statutes said they are reviewing the grand jury report.

“This report is very revealing and is going to be extremely helpful to the Legislature as we figure out how to fix this very important issue,’’ said State Rep. J José Félix Díaz, a Republican who represents a district that goes from Doral to Kendall and includes Fontainebleau, a neighborhood with many condos.

Buying a home in Miami-Dade is so expensive, it could hurt the economy

Jason and Yadira Lopez both have good jobs and college degrees — but they can’t find a nice home in a good neighborhood they can afford.

Jason Lopez doesn’t think they’re asking for too much.

He’s a University of Miami graduate who works in public relations. Yadira went to Florida International University and makes a living in marketing. Together, they expect to earn about $120,000 in 2017. They’re in their early 30s and want to have children.

“We have student loans, we have a car payment,” Lopez said. “There are homes out there, but they’re not in good shape and we don’t want to overpay. We want to be responsible and live within our means. … [Miami’s] not really a place for first-time home buyers anymore.”

[Miami’s] not really a place for first-time home buyers anymore. Jason Lopez

Even in the far-flung Kendall neighborhoods where they’re hunting for a single-family home or townhouse under $300,000, South Florida’s mid-market housing crunch is squeezing out middle-class couples like the Lopezes. Now, business leaders are starting to worry that the skilled workers who power Miami’s diversifying economy will be lost under the tide of rising home prices.

“The impact goes beyond housing,” said Carlos Fernandez-Guzman, president and CEO of Pacific National Bank. “It goes deeper into the core fiber of the economy. … This has been a concern of the business community for quite some time.”

South Florida seemed to have whipped its “brain drain” problem when housing prices plummeted during the recession. Between 2011 and 2013, the region’s population of 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher grew at the eighth-fastest rate in the nation, according to research by the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University. But home prices have soared 59 percent since the market bottomed out in 2011. And wages have barely budged.

Last year, a study on where recent college grads have the most economic opportunities ranked South Florida dead last out of 40 large U.S. metro areas because of low starting salaries and high housing costs, according to real-estate website Trulia and job-networking site LinkedIn.

“We start to get concerned about housing prices, and then a cycle comes around and prices start to drop and everyone gets comfortable that affordability is back,” said Fernandez-Guzman, the co-chair of a housing solutions task force at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. “But the prices always rise again and chip away at our trained and educated workforce.”

Victor Mendelson, co-president of Hollywood-based aerospace firm Heico, employs hundreds of people in South Florida.

We bring people down from Palm Beach [County] and recruit them to Miami, and it can be hard. Victor Mendelson, Heico

Hiring engineers, sales people and other key employees from expensive housing markets like Southern California is easy, Mendelson said. Those newcomers see Miami as a relatively good deal. But recruiting workers from less pricey areas, including the rest of Florida?

“It is a concern for us,” Mendelson said. “We bring people down from Palm Beach [County] and recruit them to Miami, and it can be hard. They’ll come down and start looking for homes and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect I would get so much less home for the money than I would a few miles up the road.’”

But affordable homes in good neighborhoods do exist. They’re just hard to find. In order to help South Floridians searching for a home, the Miami Herald has updated an online tool with new data that can help buyers find hidden-gem neighborhoods. The tool uses home price data from Zillow, school grades from the Florida Department of Education and crime statistics from software mapping company Esri to help readers identify undervalued areas.

Mid-market crunch

Miami isn’t another middle-of-the-road American city like St. Louis or Minneapolis anymore. (No offense, friends.) It’s become a metropolis with a global brand, attracting out-of-town companies and enjoying a cultural renaissance. But its success has also made it one of the least affordable cities in the United States — and one of the least affordable in the English-speaking world, according to the 2016 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Foreign investors have driven home prices out of whack with local incomes. In the year between August 2015 and July 2016, foreign nationals spent $6.2 billion on South Florida residential real estate, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. That’s 39 percent of total home spending in the region.

The gap between incomes and home prices makes South Florida the nation’s eighth-worst market for first-time home buyers, a Bloomberg study found. The other cities in the top 10 were all in California, except for Honolulu.

In today’s local housing market, it’s not just a question of providing government-subsidized homes for construction and service-industry employees. (Although affordable housing for those workers is desperately needed, too, advocates say.) The middle of Miami’s residential real-estate market is hot — and inventory is falling at alarming rates.

Over the last two years, the number of single-family homes on the market between $250,000 and $600,000 has dropped 18 percent, according to Mike Pappas, president and CEO of the Keyes Company. Homes are now staying on the market for 57 days, down from 79 days in 2014.
The $250,000 to $600,000 range is crucial because it captures the spread of homes that two-income couples with college or advanced degrees could expect to afford in South Florida, based on typical earnings and recommended housing costs.

The mid-market feeding frenzy is happening even as luxury condo sales tank. Foreign buyers drove the latest real-estate boom, now ground to a halt by a strong dollar. But there was a downside to all that investment: South Florida developers chasing foreign cash are building primarily luxury homes, driving up construction and land costs, and making it difficult to produce homes at more affordable price points.

“You hear about people looking at 45, 50 homes,” Pappas said. “They’re making multiple offers. They’re getting outbid by cash. ... There is product out there. But it takes a lot of work to find.”
Sales for mid-market homes soared 27 percent in December, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. The price range between $300,000 and $600,000 accounts for nearly 40 percent of all sales in Miami-Dade County, according to the Realtor’s group.

“It’s the strongest market in South Florida,” Pappas said. “It’s the sweet-spot of all sweet-spots.”
All that competition and not enough new construction makes life tough for locals.
“It’s very difficult to find value,” said Bruce Lamberto, a city of Miami Beach employee who owns six rental homes in Northeast Miami-Dade. “A year ago, I looked at a house that was listed for $175,000. Today, a similar home is listed for $275,000.”

There are now only 4.6 months of supply available for mid-market homes. A balanced market generally has between six and nine months of supply, meaning the mid-market is firmly in seller’s territory. And more people keep moving to South Florida: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties added 500,000 residents over the last five years.

Meanwhile, middle-class buyers complain that many attainable homes need thousands of dollars in repairs or aren’t up to code. Seven in 10 Miami-Dade homes were built before 1980, according to U.S. Census data. Homes generally need extensive renovation after 30 or 40 years of wear and tear.
“Sellers are very aware of the amount of buyers in the market and the lack of inventory,” said Ray Duran, regional sales manager at Quontic Bank in Coral Gables. “It definitely puts the sellers in a stronger position at the negotiating table.”

Homes get more expensive as they get closer to big employment centers. Trulia calculated that a middle-class family in South Florida spends 69 percent of its income on housing, transportation and utilities. That’s the third-highest rate in the nation after San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The lack of affordable inventory combined with traffic gridlock is even influencing the way companies work. Thanks to improvements in communications technology, roughly 20 percent of Sprint’s 1,200 South Florida employees now have the option of working remotely. That can save them the option of choosing between an affordable mortgage payment and a soul-crushing commute.

“You don’t need to be in the office all day long,” said Sprint regional president Claudio Hidalgo. “By using technology, we end up saving on office space, the need for a car, housing.”

Ugly math

It may seem strange that Miami is less affordable than other expensive cities like New York, Seattle and Boston. But workers in those cities earn more money on average. So even though homes are more expensive, they are also more attainable because of higher wages.

In the Boston metro area, for instance, the median home sells for $435,000 and median household income is $80,500, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. That means homes cost 5.4 more times than income. In Seattle, homes are 5.5 times more expensive than incomes. In New York, it’s 5.7. The gap in the Miami metro area stands at 6.1. In North America, only Toronto, Honolulu and the major cities in California are less affordable, Demographia found.

The disparity between worker incomes and average housing costs in South Florida can be daunting: In Miami-Dade, the median household makes $43,000 per year, according to U.S. Census figures. In Broward, it’s $52,000.

Using a calculation favored by housing experts — that households should spend no more than 3 1/2 times their income on housing — a typical Miami-Dade buyer should spend roughly $150,000 on a home. A Broward home buyer should spend $182,000.

That doesn’t compare well to median sales prices.

Existing single-family homes in Miami-Dade sold for $305,000 and condos for $210,000 in December, according to the Miami Realtor’s association. In Broward, single-family homes went for $320,000 and condos for $150,000, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

The math looks better for a two-income, college-educated couple in Broward but still leaves them coming up short in Miami-Dade. That couple’s earnings qualify them for a $288,000 home in Miami-Dade and for a $320,000 home in Broward.

One warning sign about what Miami could become lies just to the south: the Florida Keys.
In the Keys, many workers in the tourism industry have been priced out. Even teachers, firefighters and police officers find themselves commuting from South Dade.

“You have to have people who work in the restaurants,” said Martin Flynn of Tri-Star Affordable Development, which has worked on several projects in the Keys. “You have to have people who are going to teach your kids.”

County leaders understand they need to protect local workers and companies. But they also see the upside in being a city that has arrived on the world stage, said Jaret Davis, a Miami native who is co-managing shareholder of law firm Greenberg Traurig and chair of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s taxpayer-funded economic development arm.

“When I was growing up, when Miami was mentioned it was with Dallas, Detroit and St. Louis,” Davis said. “Now you hear it being named with the New Yorks and San Franciscos. We are on the radar of every major country.”

This article includes comments from the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with the Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a source at

How much has Miami Beach left on the table by not signing Airbnb deal? A lot.

By Chabeli Herrera 

In the midst of a deadlock between Airbnb and Miami Beach, the home sharing platform is trying to sway the tourist town with — what else? — money.

That’s $2 million to be exact, the amount Miami Beach left on the table in 2016 by refusing to sign a tax agreement that would allow Airbnb to collect the 3 percent resort tax from its hosts and remit it back to the city, the company told the Miami Herald Wednesday.

Miami Beach is one of three municipalities in Miami-Dade County with its own resort tax. Of the other two, Surfside and Bal Harbour Village, Surfside has already signed a deal with the platform. The county and Airbnb say they are also near reaching an agreement.

About 258,000 guests stayed at an Airbnb on the Beach in 2016, where the platform is largely illegal save for some multifamily buildings in specified areas. The platform was also responsible for an estimated $253 million in economic impact last year, with the largest portion of guest spending, 29 percent, going to local restaurants, according to Airbnb’s research.

But the Beach is almost a year into a new set of fines for violators that start at $20,000 for a first offense. As of this month, the city had fined residents nearly $4.5 million, according to the Beach’s Code Compliance department.

Until now, some hoteliers and hotel experts have said there may be a place on the Beach for Airbnb — as long as it follows the taxing rules and other safety and security regulations, such as Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, required for hotels.

Still, Mayor Philip Levine and the Miami Beach City Commission have remained staunchly opposed. The city unanimously passed additional rules in December requiring homeowners to submit an affidavit to the city affirming they are in an area approved for short-term rentals, have a business tax receipt and resort tax account, and that their condo association allows the rentals. That’s all before they can advertise their unit. Violations start at $1,000.

Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said Miami Beach has refused to meet with the home-sharing company at all.

“Letters have gone unreturned. They are just not interested,” Breit said. “And it’s shame because $2 million is $2 million.”

Similar tourist destinations have signed agreements with Airbnb, Breit said, including Chicago, which gets $3 million in resort taxes, and Portland with $4 million. In Los Angeles, where the city gets $5 million in resort taxes from Airbnb, a portion of the money helps pay for homeless programs.
Miami Beach has adopted a somewhat-similar strategy. But instead of using tax revenues, the city has used money from the Airbnb fines to fund homeless services and affordable housing. As of last month, the city had collected $100,000 in fines.

Airbnb said it “has a genuine desire” to help the city reach the objective of funding those two projects — but through its taxes.

In an interview Wednesday, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said the city would be willing to collect potential taxes from Airbnb only in areas where the platform is legal.

“We must balance the quality of life of our residents with potential tax revenue,” Levine said.

Residents on Miami Beach have complained that Airbnb poses security and noise issues and challenges to disintegrate their quality of life in neighborhood areas not zoned for short-term rentals.
We can’t have a discussion if we are sitting at the table by ourselves. They have to be willing to talk about this. Benjamin Breit, Airbnb spokesman

Reaching a tax agreement is not enough to put Airbnb on an even playing field as the hotels, said Stuart Blumberg, the former president of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and a major player in the 2009 campaign to ban short-term rentals.

“If you are going to be a level playing field with me, then you have to have a front desk, you have to security, you have to have a phone system, you have to have registration cards,” Blumberg said. “The Beach has a statute in place and the Beach says, ‘You are illegal whether you offer me bed tax money or you don’t.’”

Airbnb said it hopes to reach a compromise with Miami Beach when — and if — the city is willing to open discussions, as it has in other cities. In New Orleans, for example, Airbnb agreed to ban nearly all rentals in the tourism-overrun French Quarter as part of its tax agreement.

“Coming to the table, everything is predicated on that,” Breit said. “We can’t have a discussion if we are sitting at the table by ourselves. They have to be willing to talk about this.”

State fails to protect condo owners from board fraud, grand jury finds

Dear Florida Homeowners and Condo Owners;

The Miami-Dade Grand Jury published their report regarding
CONDO OWNERS' PLEAS FOR HELP -- RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION. Please read the excellent article from the Miami Herald with the actual report attached. Please click here: 

The report says exactly what we have been saying all along: The Division is useless and doesn't do what they are supposed to do. Remember Julio Robaina's Select Committee in 2008? They found exactly the same issues -- and nothing has been done since then to remedy the serious problems.

Two Miami legislators have committed to file a REFORM BILL using the recommendations of the Grand Jury.

Miami condo and homeowners are holding a LEGAL demonstration (with permit) on
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017 beginning at 8:30 AM at the Stephen P. Clarke Government Center, 111 NW 1st Street, Miami FL 33128

PLEASE: Let's make it a peaceful demonstration! Even if it seems to be fashionable in the moment to riot and burn other peoples' property, let's be civilized -- even if we don't agree with the actions of our legislators in the past! Let's show them that we are committed to find peaceful solutions to protect our rights

For HOMEOWNERS (regulated by FS 720): PLease bring signs saying something like: HOA ELECTIONS are even worse --since there are no regulations in place!

Please help us to push for this important reform. We will work hard in Tallahassee to make sure that the bill will get to the desk of the Governor!
Our legislators have to see that we mean BUSINESS!

State: Former West Palm condo board misspent more than $1 million

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published February 7, 2017

State regulators say former board members of the 20-building Whitehall condos on Village Boulevard misspent more than $1 million of their association’s money on themselves and shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars from reserves to cover budget shortfalls without authorization from unit owners, violations so serious that investigators forwarded evidence to state prosecutors.

“They’re reviewing it,” Eric Jester, special agent supervisor in the FDLE’s West Palm Beach field office, said, declining to comment further on the open case.

Though prosecutors say they can’t talk about an ongoing investigation, the regulatory agency’s warning letter detailed 10 violations of state condominium law that occurred from 2010 through 2015. The association could be fined $5,000 per violation if the association doesn’t respond to the letter or if violations recur.

Among the violations cited by Hague at the 480-unit complex:

It was current board members, starting in 2014, before they were elected, who fired the first salvo against the former board, by filing a civil suit, seeking to remove them for alleged misuse of association money. They got the state agency to oust President Rossi from the board for failing to pay his maintenance dues for more than 90 days.

Shortly thereafter, Keeling became president but neither he, Rossi nor Weadock are on the board anymore.

Keeling could not be reached for comment.

Rossi, in a deposition taken in that lawsuit, denied wrongdoing. Any money he withdrew with the association ATM card was to reimburse him for money he laid out for the association, he said.

Shown association bank records documenting such expenditures as money withdrawn from ATMs at the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., he said he didn’t remember the items. “I don’t know what that is,” he said. “I’m thinking, how many years ago was that?”

Condo debit card records also show multiple transactions at the Seminole Indian Casino in Coconut Creek.

“Is it regular, Mr. Rossi, for an association to withdraw association funds at a casino?” he was asked at the deposition.

He replied that the association was told by its auditor, “if money was owed or put in, that it can be taken out anyway.”

Rossi, undergoing treatment for throat cancer he attributes to Agent Orange, responded by email Thursday to a request for comment.

In his time at Whitehall, “I have never been charged or even questioned on any criminal or even civil charges whatsoever,” he wrote. “I was re-elected four times over an eight-year period by the owners. Before that, the former three presidents lasted three months, two weeks and two months.”

Weadock, for his part, confirmed to The Palm Beach Post that he was compensated for working as part-time property manager, starting before he became a board member. “I absolutely know of not one penny of illegal money spent anywhere,” he said. “You would never find any checks made out to to me other than my wage checks.”

As for casino expenditures, “I don’t know about that at all,” he said.

He blamed the investigations on “spiteful stuff, condo bull.”

But Cary Collins, a plaintiff in the 2014 suit who has since become board president, says the records — or the lack thereof — indicate vast sums are missing, maybe three or four times what investigator Hague documented. The association has a $1 million insurance policy to cover such losses but can’t collect unless criminal charges are brought, he said.

Meanwhile, unit owners are paying higher maintenance fees, because the new board is obligated to replenish the depleted accounts as aggressively as it can, Collins said. Unit owners now paying an average of $420 a month probably would be paying as much as $100 less, $1,200 a year less, if not for the missing money, not to mention that the higher assessments depress their property values, he said.

Demonstration to Support Reforms to Condo Act (FS 718)

We are standing strong! We have not forgotten about you not for a second. We will be calling and visiting Senators and House Representatives in the upcoming months

We have House Representative Jose Felix Diaz and Senator Rene Garcia introducing legislation to reform the law that will protect owners.

We want to make sure the Republicans who hold the majority in the Senate and in the House support this initiative. Some may be getting cold feet because the special interests are at it so we need you to call them and then call me to organize a door to door campaign in your area!

There must be reform to HOA and Condo Law, DBPR needs to be given more teeth, and corrupt board members, management companies, and the unethical attorneys held accountable.

Thank you for your support. Please email me at if you have specific situation in your HOA/Condo we are launching a non profit to help owners file complaints to DBPR.


Where: Stephen P. Clarke Government Center 
111 NW 1st Street,  Miami FL 33128
When: February 22,2017 at 8:30 am

It’s actually getting cheaper to rent a place in Miami. But Pembroke Pines?

It’s getting cheaper to rent an apartment in the Magic City.

Rents have dipped 2.8 percent in the past year and 0.9 percent in the past month, according to a monthly report by Apartment List. One-bedroom apartments have a median rent of $1,850 and two-bedrooms cost $2,330.

Miami Beach rents are averaging slightly higher, by about $30 to $100.

In early January, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority reported that condo leasing prices also fell. In the third quarter of 2016, they went down to $2,590 — a 3.2 percent dip compared to the previous quarter.

But, prices in Miami still remain well above the national median of $1,400 for a two-bed apartment. Despite the decrease in rents, Miami is still among the priciest places to rent in the metro area. Although downtown Miami is a job center, it’s one of the country’s most expensive housing markets relative to salaries.

According to an analysis from apartment search website RentCafé, renter households in Miami spend 48 percent of their income on housing, the second highest rate in the U.S.

Another city on the rise is Miramar, which has become the fourth most expensive city for renters in the area. One and two-bedrooms in Miramar cost about $1,390 and $1,700. Records show that prices grew by 1.1 percent over the past month, although rents have decreased by about 2.6 percent in the past year.

Pembroke Pines also is up. In the last year, rents increased 3 percent, with one-bedrooms carrying a monthly price tag of about $1,350 and two-bedrooms about $1,600.

Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach came in second and third to Pembroke Pines, with rents growing 2.2 percent and 0.7 percent.