Bill filed after 10 Investigates loophole hurting homeowners

6:44 PM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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Palm Harbor, Florida-- 10 Investigates first told you about condo owners being forced out of their homes when they had no intention or desire to sell. As a result of our investigation, Florida legislators are now working on a bill to prevent this.

The original bill was passed because the legislature was trying to help owners living in condominiums that were heavily damaged by a hurricane and therefore would be better off rebuilding as an apartment complex. However, big corporations found a loophole and started forcing out condo owners who didn't want go.

Attorney Joe Gaynor said the law, as it currently is written, "Could affect anybody who signs a document dealing with a condominium," and said it also applies to the new bill filed by Palm Harbor Representative Carl Zimmerman. 

The bill was filed after 10 News Investigators discovered condo owners were being forced to sell their units at a loss of several thousand dollars.

STORIES:

-Investigators: Corporation forces homeowners to sell property 
-Legislators try to protect condo owners from law loophole 

It was happening because of the seven-year-old law that allows large corporations to buy 80 percent of the units in a condominium and then force the rest out.

It's a problem people living at Madison Oaks Condominiums in Palm Harbor have been dealing with.

Stephanie Krasowski, who is being forced out of her condo because of the current law said, "I didn't believe they thought this was something that could happen."

Krasowski, along with dozens of others are being forced out of Madison Oaks, but are currently fighting the corporation trying to force them out.

And they are not alone. About 300 condo complexes statewide are in the same position as Madison Oaks, but this new bill would protect thousands of those condo owners.

Under the provisions of the new bill, if a corporation wants to force out homeowners, the corporation would have to pay 110 percent of the original purchase price, or the fair market value, whichever is greater. Currently, the corporation forcing out the condo owners only have to pay a fair market value, and that is often much lower than the original purchase price because of the declining real estate market.

Krasowski says she believes lawmakers will help people in the same boat she is.

"I believe the politicians are now aware of what's going on based on what's happening to thousands of people across the state."

Because every condo owner in the state is affected, Madison Oaks homeowners are trying to get support for the bill throughout the state. 

Click here for the group's Facebook page.

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