Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Help Me Howard: Can't Visit Grandma
There is one thing all kids and most adults treasure: a visit to grandmother's house. But it seems only in South Florida will a group of people try to block grandkids from visiting their grandmother. Who doesn't want grandma to see her grandchildren? A condo board. Can they get away with it? That's why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Aneita Williams has two great loves, one is her family...
Aneita Williams: "I have five kids ... eight grandkids ... and two great grandchildren."
Her second great love? Spending time with her family.
Aneita Williams: "Mainly on Saturdays because we go to church on Saturdays, and we get home around 1:30, and we have a nice big lunch."
Surrounded by happy grandchildren and great grandchildren makes Aneita smile. Seeing a loving family visit her makes her condo association simmer.
Aneita Williams: "They are sending me letters. They say I am not allowed to have visitors, to have my grandchildren visiting."
The association tried to stop the kids from visiting by telling Aneita they could not spend the night. They don't, so the association then tried to keep the kids away by keeping track of the number of times they could visit their grandmother.
Aneita Williams: "Fourteen times a year. I can only have them visit 14 times. As of now, they say I exhaust my 14 visits for this year, so they're not supposed to visit me again for this year."
Aneita's daughter Edi may was stunned by the idea to place a number on the days her children could visit their grandmother.
Edi May Puranda, daughter: 'Even in prison she would be allowed more than 14 visits."
Neither Edi May not Aneita can figure out why the association is so opposed to the kids visiting since the only time they see the children is when they come and go.
Edi May Puranda: "They stay inside her unit, and they are usually in a room watching television or out in the den watching television."
The family has read their condo documents and cannot find a single line that limits the number of times a person can visit.
They have asked board members about the rule, but apparently the board is good at sending letters to condo owners, not talking to condo owners.
Aneita Williams: "I have been very frustrated. These people ... They just get on my very last nerve. They upset me so bad."
Well, Howard, two questions: Can a board limit the number of times a person can visit, and secondly, if they pass the rule, do they have to show it to you?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "A board can block children from spending the night in a 55-and-over community, but legally they cannot limit the number of times children come to visit a relative because the law considers that an unreasonable restriction, and even if they pass the illegal rule, they have to show it to you."
We tried to talk to members of the Waterbridge Six condo board. We made dozens of calls, left business cards and letters on doors, even contacted the association's attorney.
They treated us like they treated Aneita and would not bother to respond. Finally, one board member had the courtesy to call us back and told us he thought the rest of the board was wrong to send the letters to the Williams family.
Howard says, if the board keeps up this behavior, there is one step to take.
Howard Finkelstein: "Patrick, I know you hate when I tell people to sue, but not only is that legally the right thing to do, most judges will be offended that you try to keep grandchildren from their parents, and the judges can be tough on the board."
Edi May hopes the board stops what Howard calls an unreasonable restriction because it truly troubles her mother.
Edi May: "My mom gets really stressed out when she gets these letters from these attorneys, and that's why I called Help Me Howard."
When a board accuses you of doing something wrong, ask to see the condo documents and board rules to see what they are talking about. Believe it or not, sometimes when we start digging, we find some boards just make things up as they go along. Occasionally, you find people who don't have a life so they try to ruin yours.
Finding that a solution to your problem is not child's play. Wanna visit us? We may not have grand visions, but there is no limit to the things we will try to do to help you...
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com