Questions arise over bids in condo rooﬁng repairs
By Enrique Flor & Brenda Medina
18 March 2016
Cira and José Rodríguez have resigned themselves to losing the condo they bought seven years ago.
doubles their fees
The retired couple cannot afford to pay the special assessment approved
by the board of their condo, The Beach Club at Fontainebleau Park in
Northwest Miami-Dade County. The assessment more than doubles their
monthly maintenance fee.
“We could lose our apartment … just when I am about to turn 78 years
old. It seems incredible that this can happen to me,” said Jose, his
voice breaking. Added Cira: “It’s difficult when you have worked all
your life to have a comfortable retirement, and here we are.”
The assessment fees stem from repairing the roof of 12 buildings in the
complex. Six months before its members were reelected in an election in
which numerous condo owners contend their ballot signatures were
forged, the condo board approved the $5.2 million contract, signed with
a 1-year-old roofing company.
Now, the Rodríguezes must pay their regular monthly maintenance fee of
$240 per month, plus another $260 per month to cover the assessment.
“We would have to pay more than what we receive from our retirement,
and that’s totally impossible,” Cira said. “The lawyer [for the condo
association] told us that if we did not pay the special assessment,
they could seize our apartment.”
The sudden increase in the monthly payments led some owners to ask
permission to review the financial records of the condo association, as
well as the company that administers the complex, Sunshine Management
“Unfortunately, the bidding procedures in condos can be easily
manipulated, and that is very common in Miami,” said José Pazos, owner
of Pazos Robaina Association Management, a company that manages condos.
“If the best practices established by the industry are not followed in
the bidding process — with sealed bids, received by the lawyer’s office
and opened in the presence of owners — there is a risk that it can be
manipulated and lack transparency.”
El Nuevo Herald and Univisión 23 analyzed 81 complaints filed in
Miami-Dade in 2015 that the Florida Department of Business and
Professional Regulation (DBPR), the state agency that oversees condos,
is investigating. Nine of the complaints allege financial mismanagement.
In 31 complaints, however, the owners said they were denied access to
the financial records of their condos, even though state laws guarantee
them that right. The lack of access makes it difficult for the DBPR to
investigate cases, with the agency saying that it can open an
investigation only if evidence for the allegations is submitted.
A roofing nightmare
Owners of The Beach Club have paid about $400,000 to D&T General
Contracting Inc. to repair the roofs of the 12 buildings in the
712-unit condo. The owners association began collecting the money last
July, and the work began in February.
The board of directors at The Beach Club hired D&T, a Fort
Lauderdale company founded by David Taylor just a year before,
according to Florida corporate records.
existed only on paper
The el Nuevo Herald and Univisión 23 investigation showed that the two
other companies that submitted bids for the contract existed only on
paper and were linked to employees of Taylor’s companies. The companies
are Tri-County Inc., based in Weston, and Northeast Contracting Corp.
Journalists who visited the addresses listed on the bids found they
were private homes. The bid submitted by Tri-County listed its address
as 16703 Golfview Dr. in Weston. The owner of the property, Joseph
Isabella, said he and his wife bought the home five years ago and that
no roofing company operates from there.
Broward property records show that from 2004 to 2011, Gary and Anne
Tepper owned the property. Both are related to Patricia and Erin
Tepper, according to records obtained by el Nuevo Herald. Patricia
Tepper’s online résumé showed she worked as director of operations for
Taylor Contracting & Roofing, a company owned by Taylor.
The Northeast Contracting bid listed its address in a residential
neighborhood of Plantation. When an el Nuevo Herald reporter went to
that address on Jan. 25, Erin Tepper was there and declined to comment
on whether the company was based at that address. In mid-February, two
Univisión 23 reporters found Erin Tepper working at Taylor’s office in
Dania Beach. She again refused to comment and ordered the reporters out.
The administrator of Sunshine Property Management, Juliet Siglier, said the Beach Club board decided to hire D&T.
Board vice president Guillermo Merique said that association attorney
Héctor Martínez handled the process of verifying and selecting the
bids. Martinez twice declined to comment, but later, he and Merique
made a conference call to el Nuevo Herald. During the call, Merique
changed his version of events, saying that the lawyer had not
participated in the selection of the companies and that the process had
been the responsibility of the board of directors.
But when a Univisión 23 reporter interviewed Merique on camera, he
again said Martínez was responsible for the process of selecting the
companies that bid on the roofing contract.
“The companies were verified by the lawyer,” Merique told Univisión 23.
“I go by what the lawyer has told me, the legal company that told me,
‘Look, these are the companies that qualify: They are the best, this is
the best price, this is what is most convenient.’ ”
El Nuevo Herald tried to contact David Taylor at his home in Fort
Lauderdale on March 1. A man at the home said it was not a good time to
speak with Taylor because he was preparing for a trip abroad. The man
said he would relay El Nuevo’s request for an interview to Taylor. El
Nuevo also sent Taylor an emailed request, but he did not reply.
Complaints against Taylor
A search of public records shows Taylor has created at least 15 roofing
companies, and that at least some of them face legal challenges. Condo
owners in Broward filed two of the lawsuits.
Taylor has created at least 15 roofing companies
Owners of the Eagle Nest Townhouses in Coral Springs filed a suit last
year against Taylor, his brother Joseph and his firm, ABC Roofing, as
well as Tri-Coast Roofing LLC and owner Barry Carter, alleging improper
work after Hurricane Wilma. They claim that roof tiles came loose
easily, even though the roof has a 20-year guarantee.
Two attorneys representing Taylor who showed up for a Feb. 11 court hearing, which was canceled, declined to comment.
In a separate case, the owners’ association of the Fairway Views condos
in Margate filed a complaint against David Taylor with the DBPR
alleging improper work in that complex of 176 units. The complaint
alleged that the condo paid $3.7 million to fix damage caused by Wilma
but that rain continues to seep through the repaired roofs.
“They leaked from day one,” said Sitra Friedman, president of the
association and a resident of Fairway Views for a decade. “It was
horrible … they changed names several times, and they would not speak
with anyone other than the previous president, who gave us no
information. Everything was put in wrong. They used the worst
Each complaint submitted to the DBPR has its own complexities.
At the Commodore Club South condos in Key Biscayne, the former
president of the owners association, Carlos Santamaria, was accused of
spending $17,200 in condo funds to pay for his phone service and those
of his wife and one son, according to DBPR documents.
The payments were made from October 2010 to February 2015, according to
AT&T records attached to the complaint. Condo regulations ban using
association fees to compensate members of the board of directors. But
Santamaria told el Nuevo Herald that four board members and the condo
administrator gave him a verbal approval in 2010 to pay himself for the
phones because he had to use the lines for work on behalf of the
Santamaria showed reporters copies of the monthly checks used to pay
for the phones — signed by members of the board of directors. He also
provided bank records showing that he paid $7,200 to the association
for his relatives’ share of the phone bills.
“I can make a mistake, but I don’t steal,” Santamaria said.
Another condo, The Greens in Fontainebleau, agreed in 2013 to a special
assessment of its 301 units. The assessment was to make repairs on the
seven-story building and obtain the certificate required by the condos’
The association obtained a loan of $728,000 in December 2013 to pay for the repairs, but it has not obtained certification.
Cecilia Sarraf, who became president of the condo in November, said the
quality of the work does not reflect the amount paid to the contractor,
Placeres Construction. Company official Carlos Placeres said the
company carried out all of the repairs specified in an engineering
review carried out by SD Consulting Engineers.
“We worked on that condominium for more than one year,” Placeres said.
“We finished the job and offered to submit a final report, but no one
ever answered … If more leaks appear now, one must understand that the
building is more than 40 years old and requires constant repairs.”
Neighbors like Nidia Vázquez said the owners went into debt until 2018 to finance the repairs.
“In this country, I ate too much chicken at 19 cents a pound and too
much yellow rice to be able to save the $20 for pay for my place,” said
the 77-year-old Vazquez. “My pain now is the fear of losing my house
because of a 40-year certification that we have not obtained. And my
question is, where is my money?”
Univisión 23 reporter Erika Carrillo contributed to this report.