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"I'm not sleeping at all," more Hollywood owners said to be blindsided by steep condo fees

More Hollywood owners said to be blindsided by steep condo fees
More Hollywood owners said to be blindsided by steep condo fees 03:07

HOLLYWOOD - Carriage Hills residents in Hollywood are facing special assessments that will cost them tens of thousands of dollars. It's a story many across South Florida can relate to.  

More residents have reached out since we first covered the story last week. They say they recently bought homes in the community and were blindsided by the fees.  

"This can't be happening to me because I was so happy to be here," new resident Carol Suzal shared.

Suzal, her daughter, and the fluffy pooch moved into Carriage Hills in March. Days after moving in, Suzal says a neighbor shared something shocking.

"She asked me if I knew about what was coming and spoke about an assessment," said Suzal. I said I know nothing about what you're talking about."

Last month, the association levied a special assessment on seven buildings, including Suzal's. She owes nearly $19,000, raising her mortgage payments from $1,500 to $3,400 a month.

"I am not sleeping at all," said Suzal.

Suzal is one of three residents who told CBS News Miami they had no idea about the "pending" special assessment when they purchased their home. All buying within the last five months.

"It's extremely important to know what you're buying," added realtor Andy Mandel.

The South Florida realtor stressed knowing your rights when purchasing a condo is essential. 

"The realtor's job is to get this for you," said Mandel. "Have all the, the whole financial picture of what the association is paying for what they're not, you know, what's included in your fees, what's coming down the pike as far as, you know, assessments and what work may need to get done to the building in the future."

He points to a "Condominium Rider" approved by the Florida Bar, part of the contract signed between a buyer and seller. 

In it, it states: "Seller represents that seller is not aware of any special or other assessment that has been levied by the association or that has been an item on the agenda, or reported in the minutes of the association within twelve months prior to effective date."

"Would you buy in the middle of a civil war in a location where you plan on living," said Attorney Alessandra Stivelman. "You really have to do your due diligence." 

When it comes to who is responsible for paying a pending special assessment, Stivelman says it depends.

"Depends on the language, how they answered the forms, what was known, what was actually in the minutes," shared Stivelman. "Was it clear that it was upcoming, or could it have been done in two years? What kind of communications had been had with the Association, formally or informally? And how much did the seller really understand? Was it an intentional misrepresentation, or was it unintentional?"

Stivelman mentions prospective condo buyers are also entitled to see documents about the safety of the building and all association and condo rules before signing on the dotted line.

"I would have expected someone telling me this was going on, and I would have never bought something in these conditions now," said Suzal.

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