City may shut off Palms' water

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Arun Sivasankaran    

Published February 3, 2015

North Lauderdale has cracked the whip after unsuccessfully waiting years for a condo community to pay pending water bills..

Late last year, the city shot off a letter to the property manager of The Palms that water to the community would be shut off if it did not clear its dues, totaling more than $13,500, by Jan. 15. The deadline wasn't met, but the city succeeded in getting a written promise from the new homeowners' association that the money would be paid within a month.


Unpaid water bills are just one among the many problems that the community faces. It is not an uncommon sight to see trash overflowing into the streets. With property maintenance conspicuous by its absence, code issues and liens on properties are common.

Investors have had a field day ever since the units were converted into condos a few years ago. Of the 30 units in the community, 20 are owned by investors. There are only two homesteaded properties.

"We have been dealing with this issue for the last four or five years," said City Manager Ambreen Bhatty. "Promises were made but never kept. We have $13,663 due in water bills. Trash service is intermittent; past-due balances are causing disruption in service. They owe $3,000 to Waste Pro."

North Lauderdale has threatened to switch off water for The Palms community for non-payment from the home owner's association. 

The condition of the neighborhood is a cause of concern. There are many code issues; there are currently 18 liens attached to properties and six active cases. Property maintenance and building-permit issues add to the problems that the city has to deal with.

"It used to be such a beautiful neighborhood 20 years ago," Bhatty said. "Then it started to go downhill. About half of the neighborhood is empty because of the conditions."

Julian Linton, an investor who owns two units in the neighborhood, pinned the blame on the property manager. He asked the city to give the new association 30 days to clear the dues.

"We were in the dark until we got the letter from the city; he kept saying all the issues were taken care of," Linton said. "We now have an active board. I am putting my own money into this; I cannot afford to lose my investment. Two of the units are being sold to other investors; that will bring more money in."

"It is the past bills that are weighing us down," said Alan Aronson, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1996. "Except for the water bills, all our other bills are current. We are confident that we can turn the neighborhood around."