Monday, April 24, 2006
Help Me Howard: 55 + Baby
It is a story unlike any we have seen. A mother gives birth to a baby in a building that requires residents to be 55 and older. The woman is told she can stay. The baby has to go. Silly? Yes. But legal? Well, that's why a call was made to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--It is a place for people 55 and older located on the water in Hollywood.
Nice, quiet and beautiful.
Dawn Fallick: "It's normally not bad. I keep to myself...come in and out. It's not bad."
Now, Dawn clearly is nowhere near 55. She can live in the co-op though, because she owned her unit before the building became 55-plus.
Dawn Fallick: "Go Max."
And then there is this little guy.
Dawn Fallick: "He's my world. He's everything. The most amazing thing that has ever happened."
Max's birth made Dawn's life complete -- but he has created a problem for the association..
After all, it's not too often that a legal resident in a 55 plus building has a baby.
So the board did what boards do, turned it over to their lawyer. Who did what co-op lawyers get paid to do...write a letter.
Dawn Fallick: "Saying that I had 30 days not so much for me to vacate the premises but for the person under 18 to vacate the premises.
Patrick Fraser: "The person under 18 would be 10-month old max..."
Dawn Fallick: "10-month old max."
The lawyer wrote that this is not action the board of directors desires to take, but is necessary to preserve their status as housing for older persons.
But selling, finding a new place, packing up and moving out all within 30 days is not that simple for Max's mother and father.
Dawn Fallick: "What do they want from us? We are doing the best we can. We were trying to sell for a time and we can't sell."
They had potential buyers, but none were 55 and older.
Then after Max was born, Dawn had to quit her job to stay with him and their savings went down the drain.
Dawn Fallick: "I think it's kinda mean -- I understand they have their rules and regulations but we don't bother anybody. He's no trouble. He's a quiet little boy...uh yes..."
Dawn was actually surprised when the association threatened eviction, since she had not received any complaints about Max at all. In fact, the exact opposite.
Dawn Fallick: "The whole building loves him he is the star of the building. We can't walk through the building without somebody stopping to say hello Max. It's just frustrating..."
Frustrating and frightening when all she needs is time. To save up some money and sell the place.
Dawn Fallick: "Couple of years...2 or 3 years. We're going to get him in day care so I can go back to work full-time."
But do they have to leave immediately? Can a 55 and older building evict a resident who is grandfathered in, just because she has a baby?
What did they say about this is law school, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "They didn't say anything about this is law school because the law does not yet have an answer to this question. Therefore, it's risky for the board to go to court and take its chances against this infant because nobody knows how the courts will rule."
When I spoke to the association president he was very nice.
He said Dawn doesn't bother anybody.
But their lawyer told them they had to do this.
He suggested that Dawn send a letter to their attorney and they board asking for time to sell and they would see what their lawyer thought they could do.
Howard says a little time might save everyone alot of trouble.
Howard Finkelstein: "It's best for everyone if the board and dawn can work something out because that way the board does not risk costing the other owners alot of money in a legal battle and dawn doesnt risk an expensive legal fight as well as a possible eviction."
Dawn doesn't want a fight. Just enough time to take flight.
Dawn Fallick: "I just want to do my time here nice and peacefully and save the money we need to save and stay till we have to leave."
Patrick Fraser: "Now we could not find any case that is exactly like Dawn's case. However there was a similar case in Miami where the child was allowed to stay, but in that case the family won on a technicality. And the question about a child born to a resident who was grandfathered in was not answered. Lets hope dawn and the association can work out something so her case doesnt wind up in the courts."
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