ORLANDO, Fla. — The property manager of a downtown Orlando condo building called Orlando Police to try to kick 9 Investigates out of a meeting, right before the board passed a half-million-dollar assessment that some owners argue could be unlawful.
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It’s the latest in the ongoing saga at the Jackson Condominiums, playing out in board meetings and in court.
We told you the Board President owns or has an interest in at least half the units in the building, and some question whether they could lose their units in a takeover.
9 Investigates looked into how many times it has happened across the state, and how to protect your investment.
Board President Nabeel Ansari made the motion in the recent board meeting to purchase Unit 201 in the mid-rise building, to remodel it to become a gym. The special assessment is $500,000, due this month.
Read: Condo owners say increasing assessment fees may force them to sell
“No details were given. They didn’t take any questions or commentary before the vote,” Jackson homeowner Andrew Aponte said. “They just passed it through. And now we’re on the hook for that money, for a gym that the majority of us don’t want.”
Andrew Aponte is being sued by Ansari for speaking out about issues at the Jackson, but he and a group of other owners have their own attorney, who went on the record at that Board meeting to say the assessment for a gym is unlawful because it changes the common areas of the building without a vote from all owners.
However, the Board’s attorney, disputes that; calling the gym an amenity, not a common area.
The assessment is divvied up between unit owners, of up to $13,000 per unit.
Read: Florida Senate approves bill making changes to a condominium-safety law approved last year
“If I’m delinquent, they can, after a certain amount of time, place a lien on my property,” Aponte said.
Real estate attorney Barry Miller questions whether that’s the goal.
“What it sounds like is they’re trying to squeeze these people out by having these special assessments upon special assessments, and it’s going to get to the point where they can’t afford it,” Miller said.
Miller witnessed a wave of condo terminations following the 2008 recession, turning owned units into rental properties.
Termination happens when a majority investor owner wants to redevelop or rezone a property. Florida law requires 80% owner approval for this to happen.
Ansari has put in writing that he’d like to see the property re-zoned to allow for more short term rentals. He did not respond to request for comment from WFTV.
“You’ve got the board versus the owners, and they have completely different visions here,” Miller said.
State data shows 82 condo terminations have played out across the state since January of 2020, with 9 of those in Central Florida.
“You’re at risk if you don’t pay close attention to what’s happening with your board,” Aponte said.
The unit owner group has filed a complaint against the board with the Department of Business And Professional Regulation, but the attorney representing the Board’s Association is defending their actions.
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