Crack down on condo association abuses
Miami Herald Editorial Board
20 March 2016
Allegations of fraud by condominium associations in South Florida is
nothing new, but the latest case to come to light is shocking in its
And it reveals something else: That investigation into such abuses by
local authorities is too infrequent, and many condo residents are left
frustrated without the help of the agencies created to protect them.
Last week, el Nuevo Herald reporters Brenda Medina and Enrique Flor,
focused the spotlight with their in-depth investigation into possible
fraud at The Beach Club condo complex in Fontainebleau Park and other
condos in South Florida.
The probe, conducted with the help of Univision 23, uncovered numerous
complaints filed by Beach Club residents alleging disturbing
irregularities in the administration of their condo complex.
Among the most egregious discoveries is the forging of signatures of up
to 84 condo owners — many linked to an election held last November to
select Beach Club board members.
The reporters also found that the board awarded a multimillion-dollar
contract to a company for complex roof repairs without a proper bidding
process, as required by law. Get this: The companies that were listed
as offering competing bids were fictitious, el Nuevo’s investigation
Days after the first installment was published, Miami-Dade police
announced that it is launching an investigation into the allegations of
fraud at The Beach Club, which is west of Miami International Airport.
This marks progress, because, in the past, authorities have ignored
complaints from several residents of the complex — that’s another one
of the series’ findings.
Now, the el Nuevo Herald investigation has laid groundwork for any
The allegations leveled against The Beach Club association are detailed
among hundreds of complaints filed in 2015 by owners of condominiums in
Miami-Dade and Broward counties with the Department of Business
Regulation and Professional (DBPR), the state agency that oversees the
condos in Florida.
It’s not surprising. There are almost 1.6 million condos in the entire
state, 38 percent of them in Miami-Dade and Broward.
get to the bottom of the alleged abuses
Authorities now need to get to the bottom of the alleged abuses and
give the residents of The Beach Club some answers as to if, and how,
they were defrauded, deceived and denied proper representation by their
Especially troubling is the falsification of owners’ signatures, which
tilted the results of the board elections, a criminal offense.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro is calling for the creation of
an elite unit, including police departments, assigned to curb abuses by
condo associations. The series reveals that such a dedicated watchdog
unit is sorely needed.
But in the case of The Beach Club, both Miami-Dade police and state
prosecutors must take a strong stand and respond quickly to complaints
of irregularities that some residents say have fallen on deaf ears for
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle can, and should,
impanel a grand jury to focus on condo-association abuses. And the
state should also exercise stricter supervision.
wrongdoers unearthed should be prosecuted
Most important, any wrongdoers unearthed should be prosecuted. Condo
owners should be assured of the integrity of the associations meant to