Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Unit Owners In Failed Florida Condominium Fight To Save Their Homes As Bulk-Apartment Investor Seeks To Legally Squeeze Them Out & Convert Complex Into A Rental Building

In Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports:
  • Built in what could become one of Tampa Bay's most dynamic neighborhoods, The Slade At Channelside condominiums boast an eclectic mix of unit owners.

    There's Brandon McArthur, a baseball scout for the Los Angeles Angels. And Anthony Arzola, a medical devices salesman. And Damon Mathis, a colonel in the U.S. Army.

    They and many others bought in The Slade — paying more than $200,000 for their units — because they liked its sleek look, its wide range of amenities and its location in a prime area poised for massive redevelopment.

    But they are fighting what could be a losing battle to keep their homes.

    A St. Petersburg-based company, Slade Owner LLC, has acquired more than 85 percent of the units and wants to make The Slade rental only. It already is leasing out the units it owns and needs to acquire only a few more to achieve its goal.

    To that end, the holdouts charge, Slade Owner is trying to bully them into selling. They say the company arbitrarily reassigned long-held parking spots and has slapped them with assessments, demanding quick payment in full. And they say it has threatened them with the possibility of more assessments unless they accept what they call "ridiculously'' low offers to sell.
    In 2011, a South Florida company bought more than 200 units at a foreclosure auction, rented them out, then sold them last year to Slade Owner LLC for $40 million, records show.

    Slade Owner has continued to buy individually owned units, including two in November. It easily meets the 80 percent ownership requirement but [those] who don't want to sell still make up more than 10 percent of the ownership — enough to block termination of the condominium association though just barely.
    In response to the unintended effects of [a] 2007 law, the Legislature passed another law last year that increased protections for condo owners facing the forced sale of their units. Among them: Homesteaded owners who bought from the developer must be reimbursed for the price they originally paid, while owners who bought later must be paid the fair market value of their units.

    In a case involving a South Florida condominium, though, Florida's Third District Court of Appeal issued a ruling in November that could embolden some bulk owners to ignore the new law's protections for owners who don't want to sell. That worries The Slade holdouts, who have hired an attorney and plan to keep on fighting.