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Can Investors Force Condo Owners Out?

When you buy a condominium, you know that, in most cases, you’ll need to abide by HOA rules or guidelines whether you like them or not. In some situations, these rules and regulations result in a contentious condo dispute. Yet most condo owners continue to think of themselves as homeowners, investing in a significant piece of property in Florida. A recent article in the Tampa Bay Times, however, suggests that wealthy investors may be able to use a specific Florida law to “force condo owners from their homes.” Do condo owners have rights in these situations?

Condo Disputes with Wealthy Investors

Back in 2007, Florida lawmakers were concerned about condominiums that were badly damaged in hurricanes—and weren’t getting the repairs they needed—and condos that had gone into foreclosure and thus had turned into eyesores for other members of the community. Buyers began “snapping up” these properties, and the Florida legislature amended the law “to make it easier to do needed repairs.” However, this change to the law also came with a loophole, which “made it easier for buyers who acquired 80 percent of the units in a complex to vote to convert to rentals and force the remaining individual owners to sell and leave.” More than 10 percent of the owners need to object, or else all individuals can be forced to sell.

Could condo owners really be forced to sell their properties? Do those homeowners have a legitimate dispute with investors who purchase other units in their buildings? The recent article suggests that condo owners appear to be getting a raw deal. If you’re familiar with Grande Oasis at Carrollwood, one of the biggest condominium complexes in the Tampa area, then you might have heard about some of the owners being forced to sell.

At Grande Oasis, a billionaire from Texas, John Goff, has been buying up condo units. He now owns “at least 800 of the 1,000 units” in the complex, which is “enough to force residents . . . to sell their condos—probably at a big financial loss—so Grande Oasis could be converted to apartments.” Many of the owners are extremely displeased with this news. As one condo owner said of her property, “I have put everything into this place, and now I realize I’m going to be kicked out and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Need for Compensation and Better Individual Protection

Believe it or not, this type of condo-to-apartment conversion is actually somewhat common. Given that Florida condo owners could be made to sell their homes based on the actions of a large investor, Florida lawmakers need to take action to better protect individual owners and to provide compensation.

One of the big problems in places like Grande Oasis is that many condo owners purchased their properties at the height of the Florida real estate boom. Under the law, when big investors force them out, those owners have one of two options. First, they can get “a percentage share of the converted apartment complex,” or second, “they must sell back their units at fair-market price.” Given that the fair-market price of a condo in Grande Oasis likely is significantly less than the price at which many owners financed, they could be out quite a lot of money.

Do you have questions about your rights as a condominium owner? Are you currently involved in a condo dispute with your HOA or an investor? You should discuss your case with an experienced Hollywood condo association dispute attorney. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

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