Condo Special Assessment - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Condo Special Assessment

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WSVN -- Patricia loves to garden.

Patricia Morrissey, Tired of Special Assessments: "I like impatiens, I like greens, I have a lots of rhododendrons."

And when she is not caring for her plants, she is painting.

Patricia Morrissey: "It's not professional but I enjoy it."

Both hobbies accomplish the same thing.

Patricia Morrissey: "Relaxes me."

But today, neither hobby can wipe out the stress her Ledges condo board is causing.

Patricia Morrissey: "They're outrageous."

Her board hit her with a $4,962 special assessment. She was told pay it or...

Patricia Morrissey: "Or they will start proceedings to foreclose on my condo, which is paid for. I own it."

The nearly $5,000 special assessment is just the latest to come from her board.

Patricia Morrissey: "So far, we have had seven, starting last year."

Patricia is retired and got a part time job to pay the other assessments. But her savings are wiped out and she needs her paychecks to keep up with the bills all of us face.

Patricia Morrissey: "I have homeowners insurance, car insurance, food."

The board says they need the 178 residents to supply the $600,000 to pass the 40 year recertification. Patricia and her neighbors went to a board meeting to fight the assessment. Didn't go over well.

Patricia Morrissey: "It turned into an argument where the president of the board told everybody to 'shut up'."

Since her condo is paid for and her maintenance fees are up to date, Patricia tried to get a reverse mortgage to pay the assessment. She was turned down, leaving her fearful her own board will foreclose on her home.

Patricia Morrissey: "You own the property, this is ridiculous."

Well Howard, if you cant afford a special assessment, can a condo board foreclose on you and throw you out of your own home?

Howard Finkelstein: "Yes they can. In most cases, your homestead can block a creditor from taking your home. But legally, associations have the right to take your home if you do not pay your monthly maintenance fees or a special assessment."

We first contacted the Ledges attorney, who tried to help by offering Patricia a payment plan, but it was a thousand dollars a month, which she cant afford.

So we went in a different direction. And came up with a $5,000 loan for Patricia. She will repay it over five years costing her $103 a month, which she can afford. One headache from her association out of the way.

Howard Finkelstein: "If you are short on money, try different avenues to raise it. Or if you can't afford the assessment or even your monthly maintenance fees, try to work out a payment plan. Because once the association turns your bill over to their attorney, the fees will soar very quickly and you may never be able to pay it off."

With the special assessment paid, Patricia can relax a little. Provided of course, the board doesn't make another demand for money.

Patricia Morrissey: "My stress level is better, thanks to Channel 7 and all the people that have helped me there. I will keep you in my prayers for what you've done for me."

Patrick Fraser: "We don't take money but we sure take prayers. Now just so you know, your board can hit owners with as many special assessments as they want. But in the case of Patricia's complex, the attorney for the Ledges says most owners have paid the latest special assessment and that will enable them to successfully complete the recertification."

A situation left you certifiably furious? Let us assess the situation. We may not leave you feeling special but we won't cost you a dime.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

EMAIL: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)

REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

MIAMI-DADE: 305-953-WSVN

BROWARD: 954-761-WSVN

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