Condo Shutters: Condo wants resident to purchase hurricane shutters again

Article Courtesy of News 7 Miami
By Patrick Fraser

Published February 23, 2018

A South Florida man paid for hurricane shutters a while back, but now his condo association wants him to pay for them … again! So he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It’s something every child would like to be able to do for their parents one day…

Ray Vega, shutter problem: “I said, ‘You know what, they need a place.'”

And Ray was able to buy a condo on the water for his parents.

Ray Vega: “It’s nice and has a really nice view of the river. It’s very relaxing. They love the building.”

When Ray bought the property, he paid a little more than other units were going for because this one had hurricane shutters.

Ray Vega: “We have a metal door in the front and we have shutters in the back. We have shutters in every window.”

Then after Irma, the River Run Condo Association decided to take out a loan and install hurricane shutters on each of the 88 condos on the property. They issued a monthly assessment to pay for it.

Ray Vega: “It’s like $50. Fifty dollars more per month for five years.”

Ray’s response to having to pay $3,000 for shutters?

Ray Vega: “Why should I pay for a loan on shutters if I already have shutters? And I don’t think I should pay for someone else’s shutters.”

Ray says he complained to the condo president, but got nowhere…

Ray Vega: “The loan was already approved and pretty much we got to go ahead and do it.”

Do it, Ray says, but not on his dime, or in this case, $50 a month for five years.

Ray Vega: “And I don’t think it’s fair. What is fair is fair.”

Well Howard, Ray doesn’t think its fair, but can an association force him to pay for an assessment for everyone’s shutters if he already has them?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No. No matter what an association’s board decides, state law says those who already have code complaint shutters do not have to pay for other people’s shutters. It’s that simple.”

I spoke to the attorney for River Run Condos. He was very helpful.

In an email he wrote, they don’t consider this a special assessment which would have been $250 a month for a year.

Instead to make it easier for residents, its $50 a month for five years.

And good news for Ray — the association attorney said if Ray can show proof the prior owner pulled a permit and the shutters complied with building codes, the association will gladly issue him a credit, and he won’t have to pay the $50 a month assessment.

Ray does have to pay a small portion of the fee for the shutters that will cover the common area, which Ray agreed to do.

Howard Finkelstein: “If your association is trying to make you do something you feel may not be right, research the law and give it to the board because a good board will change because they don’t want the extra cost of bringing in their attorney or a lawsuit.”

Ray is now trying to find the property paperwork from the City of Miami or the prior owners to make sure he does not have to pay for shutters again.

Ray Vega: “If you see something that you don’t feel is right, call the right person, and that’s the reason why I called Help Me Howard.”

If Ray can’t find the permit from years ago, he has another option: get a contractor to inspect the shutters and confirm they are code compliant because the law doesn’t use the word permit — just that they have to be code compliant. That might be good enough for the board.

Shutter when you think of a problem you have? Ready to bring everyone into compliance? Get on board with us. And we will specially assess your headache at no charge of course.