NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – People living in several South Florida communities with Homeowner’s Associations claimed they were living a nightmare and it was all because of one property management company.
“No financial, forging elections,” said condo owner Manny Ferreira.
Local 10 investigative reporter Amy Viteri visited the 3 Horizons East Condominium in North Miami where several neighbors gathered in the hallways, each with a problem to share. The complaints focused on their property manager Michael Curtis and his company BDM Property Management LLC.
Owners alleged that Curtis fraudulently installed their HOA board of directors.
When asked if there were elections, unit owner Jenny Trujillo stated, “No. There haven’t been elections here in four years.”
No elections and no help, according to neighbors. They point to predatory towing practices targeting owners, busted building pipes flooding units with sewage and leaving visible mold, along with unpaid vendors refusing to do repairs, leaving some residents to pay out of pocket.
“He charged me $299 -- that’s the plumber,” said resident Wendy John who showed a receipt for payment to a plumber to fix a riser that belonged to the building, but flooded her unit.
Neighbors tell Local 10 that thousands of dollars in maintenance fees appear to be unaccounted for. Owners said they are stuck due to several liens on the property.
There is currently a lien on the building for non-payment of the land lease since March. The amount owed was approximately $25,000.
Trujillo explained for any owner who would like to sell and move out, that means they can’t.
The association also owed $84,000 in penalties for fire code violations, leading to another lien on the property. Neighbors say they haven’t been able to use the community’s pool and recreation center.
“Because we haven’t paid the recreation fee of $1,500 a month and over since 2019,” Trujillo explained.
An invoice showed that balance was $63,000. But Trujillo said owners have been paying their maintenance fees and provided receipts to prove it. Local 10 visited BDM’s office in Pompano Beach to ask Curtis directly about the outstanding payments.
Curtis did not immediately come to the door at his office but was inside. Cameras captured him peeking from behind a corner several times before eventually opening the door. He said he was unable to speak due to an ongoing zoom call, but requested an email with questions.
Local 10 received an email from Curtis’ attorney who disputed many of the owners’ claims but offered no proof. For example, he claimed the recreation lease was up to date, but a contact for the recreation center stated in an email:
“We have not been paid. I am not sure why the property manager would say that. I repeat, we have not received any payment.”
Meanwhile, Local 10 learned of several communities managed by BDM where owners have very similar complaints.
One of those communities, the Fairways of Sunrise, is currently suing BDM. Among the complaints, court records revealed in 2020 the Fairways HOA received a settlement that amounted to $440,000 for damage from Hurricane Irma.
But owners said they never saw that money. In court, Curtis said he was unaware of any payout. But bank records from that month showed his company BDM got a check from the HOA for $439,000, nearly the exact same amount.
“Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle for an owner to fight this kind of mess in an association,” explained attorney Alessandra Stivelman.” It shouldn’t be like that. But that’s the reality.”
Stivelman specializes in condominium association law and said the burden is on unit owners to keep an eye on their board of directors and property manager. Getting rid of either can be costly and time consuming.
“Ultimately I’d like to see more involvement by the police department when there are allegations and more funds and staff allocated to economic crimes,” said Stivelman.
The state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees property management companies and has cited BDM and properties it manages over prior complaints.
The DBPR is currently investigating new complaints from 3 Horizons East. A spokesperson for the agency told Local 10 it does have the authority to revoke a manager’s license, which is something owners said needs to happen.
“We want to live in peace,” said Trujillo. “Bring us up to date, tell us where all our money is, tell us who’s not paying -- be honest.”
A spokesperson for the DBPR told Local 10 they were reviewing current complaints and revocation of a license would be an option they consider depending on the violation found and what was determined in that review.