MANGONIA PARK, Fla. — Some homeowners in a condo community are fearing they could lose their homes due to a special assessment that will cost each homeowner $10,000.
"You can remove your cameras or I'll have the police remove them," Harlan Miller with HG Property Management told Contact 5 at a meeting on Tuesday, kicking our crew out of the building.
Miller manages the properties of 121 units in what was formally the Tiffany Lakes Condominiums, now called Cateleya Shores.
At Tuesday's meeting, the homeowners were taking an important vote after the HOA board proposed each condo have a special assessment that will cost each homeowner $10,000.
According to the proposal, $6,500 will be due by July 8 and then the remaining $3,937 will be due on Nov. 8.
It passed with 121 yes votes, 67 no votes and 52 homeowners abstaining.
The situation is sparking some controversy because those 121 votes all came from Miller's boss, who owns 121 units in the community, and is also the HOA president.
"I'm thinking, well, when did we talk about this? When did we have a meeting about this?" Shaundrika Taylor told WPTV.
Taylor is also on the HOA board.
She said the decision to move forward with the assessment was made without her and several other board members.
Taylor fears this will bring a great financial burden on seniors who live in the community and others who own homes and rent them out.
"It's important that we protect our elderly and our aging community. They live here. This is their home. They've been here for years," Taylor said. "They've seen the good, the bad, the ugly come through, and they deserve a right to live without someone trying to force them out."
After the meeting, Miller came out and answered some of WPTV's questions.
"The reason for this assessment is — if you look around the property — we've had 48 roof leaks in the last year and a half," Miller said. "We have compromised stucco issues, rotting soffits, rotting fascia."
He told Contact 5 he has no sympathy for the residents who are fearing they'll lose their properties or will have to hike up the tenants' rent.
"I'm an investor myself. I wouldn't cry wolf if I was pocketing all my rent money and not putting it into my property," Miller said.
The outrage from the owners has sparked the attention of two state lawmakers in Tallahassee who are hoping to look at how state statutes can be changed for Floridians, like the people who live in Tiffany Lakes.
"Because of the way that the law is set up, if somebody has a controlling interest of a majority of the units, then when they sit on the board, they're able to control and issue assessments and what we're seeing here," state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, Minority Leader Pro Temp, said.
"What we need to do, of course, there will be lawyers involved, but we need to show that this is what's going to happen all across Palm Beach County," state Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach, said. "This isn't a singular issue, but this is what people who have a lack of empathy and only care about the bottom line are trying to do across our county."
The Tiffany Lakes community has now started a GoFundMe page, hoping to raise money to hire an attorney who can help them fight this.