A lawsuit has been served on residents of an apartment building in Maimi Beach and they now face eviction for alleged failure to properly maintain and insure the building.
More than 140 defendants were recently served with the lawsuit, with orders to respond in the next few days or else they could be removed from their homes in the Gardens on the Bay apartment complex in South Florida.
The land on which the 1954 building sits is owned by a company that leases it to a community of owners, with each owner of the unit taking a share of the lease.
In the lawsuit by the Miami Heraldthe landlord argues that the apartment owners are tenants under the lease and are responsible for the upkeep of the building, so they should be evicted for breach of contract.
The building is due for recertification next year and needs at least $2 million in repairs, according to the landlord, an LLC controlled by Miami-based Millennium Management and its leader, healthcare magnate Abraham Shaulson.
A technical report commissioned by the company last summer and obtained by the outlet identified numerous cracks in the concrete and other issues, which is where the $2 million was to be used.
The lawsuit also found that the apartment complex did not have adequate insurance, which the company has reportedly addressed in a series of letters to the community of owners over the past few years.
To make matters worse, the building’s property insurance company said last month it would not be renewing its policy due to the age and condition of the roof.
Marta Alvarez, a 92-year-old resident, responded to the lawsuit with handwritten court filings obtained by the outlet along with several other apartment owners.
“Why would you want to kick an old lady out of her house?” wrote the widow, who has lived in the apartment complex for over three decades.
“Who will help me if I move to a strange place?”
Another solution to the lawsuit would require residents to pay a hefty tax payment, which could prove too costly for some homeowners.
Several residents, many of them seniors, living on a steady income, said they were “depressed” after receiving the eviction notice.
Pedro Vilorio, a 78-year-old who has lived in the building since 1997, called Shaulson’s company a bully.
“It’s like they’re bullying us,” Vilorio said. “We have no place to go.”
The homeowners’ association, which has filed a counterclaim with representation for condominium law firm Becker & Poliakoff, argues that it is the tenant of the lease and not the condoowners.
“Citing on this incomprehensible position, the owner has now threatened eviction proceedings against the condominium owners within the association,” the association, which receives maintenance fees from residents and pays the landlord $65,000 a year, said in a lawsuit filed by the branch is available.
The countersuit was filed in February after the landlord sent an initial notice to homeowners.
J. Joseph Givner, an attorney for the landlord, said in a letter to the association on Friday that Shaulson’s company had “no choice but to pursue an eviction action” after the tenants and owners association allegedly failed.
A compromise was also suggested in the letter, saying the landlord doesn’t want to evict the residents.
According to the letter, the landlord will resume the lease if residents meet a list of conditions, which include obtaining necessary insurance by June 26 and correcting “any issues with the physical condition” of the building within 90 days .
This compromise, to which the association has ten days to react, would be extremely difficult to implement in the given time frame, according to association president Irene Lopez.
Local residents received good news after a judge granted the association’s request to stay the case pending a hearing scheduled for June 27.