MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The letter was dated April 24, 2019:
“Dear Valued Resident(s),
"The City of Miami Beach has approved plans to significantly upgrade our community. Major modifications to the North Tower will include changes in infrastructure, landscaping, and the extensive renovation of all apartment homes. To ensure safety and accessibility, this project will require residents to vacate the North Tower.”
In bold letters, the letter went on:
“This notice is to inform you that your lease (together with all other leases in the North Tower) will be terminated effective Sunday, June 30, 2019.”
The notice came as quite a shock to Robert Baptista. He said he has lived at Flamingo Point on Bay Road in Miami Beach for 14 years. He currently lives in the North Tower and said he just renewed his lease about a month ago.
“Yes! For two years,” he said.
Marc Zuccara told the Leave it to Layron team he moved into his unit four months ago. He said no one told him he’d have to move out before his lease comes to term.
“I just got settled in. Now I have to move again," Zuccara said.
“If it was me that wanted to break my lease prior to the end of it, I'd have to pay astronomical fees," said Al Johnson.
Johnson is one of the 422 residents who live in the 366 units that make up the North Tower . Flamingo Point is managed by Aimco, which says major systems— heating, ventilation, airconditioning, electrical, plumbing — all need replacing.
"Everyone I've told this asks, 'How is that possible?" Johnson said. "Is it legally possible?"
The short answer is yes.
"If I were to take this to court, I'd probably lose if I were the tenant," said Rhonda Hollander.
The LITL team showed Hollander, an attorney, a Flamingo Point lease. The notice residents received references a termination addendum in the lease that gives the landlord power to terminate leases with 60 days notice.
Hollander said it could happen to anyone who signs a similar lease containing a similar addendum.
"We should be reading, and people don't [read],” Hollander said. “People also don't explain, which is a big part of what we're talking about here."
"This is how we get treated, you know," Zuccara told us. The termination notice came four months after he moved into the North Tower. The LITL team wanted to know why he would even be offered a lease that would be terminated so soon after the lease came to term.
A section in the lease reads:
"As of the date of this lease, no renovation of the apartment home has been scheduled during the lease term."
The LITL team learned Miami Beach approved the initial project plans in 2017.
In a statement, Aimco representative Jamie Alvarez said it's hard to know when a project of this size will start.
“We developed the notice while still finalizing the schedule for work to commence. We were working diligently to communicate this transition to residents before we even knew when the project would start, hence our ability to provide a week longer than the 60-day notice requires,” Alvarez wrote.
We also wanted to know when the last lease was signed. We're told agents stopped leasing the moment they knew work would begin. When that moment came it is still not known.
“We are in the business of providing homes, which is why we have a dedicated relocation team on-site to assist residents in this transition,” Alvarez said. “We also offer rent credits, gift cards, and other assistance to help defray moving expenses … Our on-site team is working individually with residents to refund deposits and assist them with their unique needs as part of the move.”
“What they’ve offered to offset the moving costs is just a joke,” said Johnson.
According to the termination notice letter, Flamingo property managers will waive transfer fees to an available Flamingo Point apartment or another Aimco community. That would be based on income qualifications, credit score and payment history.
*$1,000 rent credit for those who sign a new 12+ month lease by May 6 and move in by May 20.
*$500 rent credit for a 12+ month lease and move in by May 31.
*$300 rent credit for a 12+ month lease and move in by June 10.
For residents who opt to leave the property and don’t move into another Aimco property:
*$500 gift cards are being provided to those who leave by May 20.
*$300 gift cards are being offered to residents who leave by June 10.
“I would never renew with them,” said Baptista.
“The more I think about it and how the management has handled this, the more it kind of makes me just want to take my business elsewhere,” said Johnson.
The termination notice ends by thanking residents for choosing the Flamingo Point community as their home.