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Action 9 investigates new credit score hurdle for some home buyers, renters

ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9 investigates how credit scores are now used by a condominium board to make renting or even buying a unit almost impossible.

Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich interviewed Jody Hill in the empty condo she's owned for years.

“I was stunned, to be honest with you,” Hill said.

The condo is empty because Hill claims the Pine Ridge Village Condo Association is rejecting good renters after the association approved a credit score policy. Potential renters must now have a minimum credit score of 700.

Hill says a decent couple she approved was later denied by the board because of a 695 credit score.

“Could you believe it?” Ulrich asked.

“No. I could not. I was livid, to say the least, and pretty much speechless,” Hill said.

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Real estate agent John Dannel says he's signed rental leases here for years. But now claims at least six renters were denied for scores under 700.

“I've never seen it before. I've been doing it 26 years, and I've never seen a credit score this high,” Dannel said.

It's not just renters. Condo owners say now their potential buyers are being turned away by the condo association based on their credit scores.

“Is it costing you a buyer?” Ulrich asked.

“So far it's cost me two buyers,” said condo owner Jean Abianoun. He said they were cash buyers but the condo association refused to approve the sales. The buyers’ scores were just under 700.

“It's discriminating against a lot of people, in my mind,” Abianoun said.

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Experts say condo boards can change governing documents to screen renters, although a 700 credit score is high.

But setting credit score minimums for buyers can violate a property owner's rights.

“A willing buyer and a willing seller, real estate should be fluid without conditions. Courts don't like conditions. ‘Who can buy? Who can't?,” said attorney Karen Wonsetler.

The Pine Ridge Village Condo Board did not return Ulrich’s calls.

“This board has infringed upon our right to use our property,” Hill said.

Condo owners Action 9 talked to are considering a court challenge of the credit score restrictions for buyers.

They could also ask to review all condo documents involving how the vote was taken to change the rules.

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