Saturday, December 17, 2016

Class Action Lawsuits To Begin Targeting Florida HOAs That Gouge Tenants For Excessive Application, Move-In Fees Over $100 Maximum Capped By State Law

In Miami, Florida, The Miami Herald reports:
  • A tenant is suing a Miami condo association over its excessive application and move-in fees, saying they violate state law.

    The lawsuit is the first of several class-actions that attorneys say they plan to file against condo associations over high fees. In June, the Miami Herald reported that condo boards routinely charge consumers hundreds of dollars more than state law allows. Florida statute caps the amount condos can charge to apply and move in at $100 per person.

    In a suit filed [] in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, August Lasseter says he was billed $625 in non-refundable fees when he signed a lease for a unit at one of the two high-rise towers at Quantum on the Bay last year. The charges broke down to $100 for a background check, $175 for “administrative review,” $125 for registration and $225 for move-in.

    “I questioned it at the time, but it’s not like you really have a choice,” said Lasseter, 37, who runs a modeling agency. “They say you pay it or you don’t move in.”

    Attorneys for the board, which was highlighted in the Herald’s initial story as the condo with the highest fees, said they had not yet been served and couldn’t comment.

    The Florida Condominium Act prohibits condo associations from charging fees of more than $100 per applicant “in connection with the sale, mortgage, lease, sublease, or other transfer of a unit.” (Married couples are considered one person and children are exempt.)

    Such fees are known as “transfer” fees because they concern the transfer of a unit from one owner or tenant to another.

    It’s shocking that associations are intentionally and knowingly charging these fees when they are improper even after the public attention from media coverage,” said Aaron Resnick, an attorney who is handling the suit. “It’s black-and-white. The law can’t be any clearer on what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. ... Knowledgeable condo associations and property management companies have been flouting the law for years. It’s a shame that it will take lawsuits to end this practice.”

    Resnick is working with South Florida attorneys Joshua Spector and Jonathan Feldman to file more suits across the states.

    “We’ve identified condo associations from Tallahassee to Jacksonville and Orlando to Tampa, but Miami is the most prevalent,” he said. “And we’ve found it’s not just the expensive condos that are doing this, it’s across the board. The wrong is the same, but the impact is even greater [on poorer residents].”

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