Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Help Me Howard: Housesitting Brouhaha
If you are planning a trip this summer and live in a condo, you may want to listen to this. One man says he asked a friend to stay with his dog for a few weeks, but the condo board said: Nope. Before packing your bags, watch Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Gary Silver: "You going to lick my head? Good, lick my head. Proves I not only have good taste, but I also taste good."
The pictures say it all. Gary and his dog Max kind of like each other.
Gary Silver: "She's my baby. She goes to work everyday with me, everywhere I can."
But the one place Gary can't take Max is on vacation, especially this year.
Gary Silver: "Every year I take a trip to somewhere, and this year I've been planning a trip to China for a long time. I can't take her to China, that's correct."
Earlier this year, Gary took care of that, asking a friend who housesits, to sit in with Max when he heads to Asia in July.
Gary Silver: "I was planning on leaving the dog here with the same person I left the dog here with last year, who's actually my best friend. He stayed here last year, with the OK from the building."
Gary says he was planning because last month he saw a notice on the condo bulletin board.
Gary Silver: "Saying, if you're going away, and someone is going to occupy your apartment, a guest is going to occupy your apartment, to give them authorization, and let them know that someone is going to stay there."
Since Gary follows the condo rules, he faxed the board his friend's information and got whacked by the board.
Gary Silver: "I immediately got a phone call from them saying that i'm being turned down. When I asked to find out why they said there is a Florida state and City of Sunny Isles Beach law that only immediate family can stay in your apartment when you were away."
That law was news to Gary, who's owned his condo for 10 years and never heard of this rule before.
Gary Silver: "I asked them to show me the law, and they said they don't have it."
But the board wouldn't budge, leaving Gary punished by a rule that really shows the board has too much time on its hands.
Gary Silver: "It upsets me that I can't tell anyone that I want to stay in the apartment I own."
Playing by the rules and getting penalized irritates Gary and worries him because of what it will force pet owners to do.
Gary Silver: "She's a sweet little girl, and she wants to stay here, in the comfort of her own home, she doesn't want to have to go to a vet, where they'll put her in a cage."
So Gary called Help Me Howard with one simple question: Is there a law that blocks a friend from housesitting while you're away on vacation?
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are an orphan or you are gay and your parents are dead, this condo board may be discriminating against you. A lot of people don't fit into this board's definition of family. I believe it may be illegal. The rules should be changed or the board sued to change it."
We first contacted Sunny Isles to see if they had a law barring friends from staying in a condo. They did not. Neither does the State of Florida. We then contacted the condo's attorney who told us it's the condo's rules that limit occupancy to immediate family members but added the restrictions are for staying overnight. It would not prohibit the friend from coming over and walking the dog.
When we asked if this would encourage unit owners to just not report who is staying, he said, "We hope people play by the rules, but have no control over those who don't."
Howard says the residents should not be forced to break the rules, but they have an option.
Howard Finkelstein: "Any condo owner can put together a petition to change or amend condo rules. Look at your condo documents to see how to do it and how many people have to agree, and if the board fights you, get on the board.
Gary Silver: "Come here, Max, kisses."
Gary doesn't have time to battle the board before he goes on vacation, but he won't have to put Max in a kennel.
Gary Silver: "I will have to leave her with my neighbor, who said that if I have to, they could possibly watch after her."
If the board was sued, the fact that Gary says they approved a friend housesitting last year and turned him down this year could be a factor because it shows their definition of family is not consistent, and, legally, there is a definition for family, but it varies from city to city and state to state.
Trip troubles tormenting you? Need a vacation from the problem? Let us housesit it because we've learned keep your friends close and the condo commandos closer.
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