MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Residents of one South Florida community are describing how they fought back and got rid of their property management company.
“We got rid of BDM thank God,” said Fairways of Sunrise owner Claire Knight. “It was hard work, but a group effort.”
She and other neighbors shared the story of their fight to take control of the community after they claim the company BDM Property Management caused significant financial damage.
Local 10 News has reported on several other BDM managed communities, separate properties where owners say they never elected their board and property manager Mike Curtis blocked them from holding annual meetings or legitimate elections. Meanwhile, records show thousands of dollars in association funds unaccounted for and liens against properties piling up.
“He had several sham elections,” said Owran Green who lives at the Fairways of Sunrise. “All we knew about was after, after the fact, that these people were on the board.”
In July of 2020 owners at the Fairways decided to take action. With no way to force elections, they filed to recall the unwanted board which supported Curtis. They chose new board members but the old board and Curtis did not go quietly.
Video from social media shows a community meeting in which frustrations boiled over with owners shouting at Curtis and the recalled board. Months after the recall, they refused to step down. The case went to court and in October of 2021 a judge upheld the recall, stripping the prior board of power.
The community is now suing BDM for negligence. And records revealed in court have raised even more concerns.
“We realized he wasn’t doing a good job. And he was robbing us,” said Green.
Financial statements show since 2018 hundreds of thousands of dollars in HOA funds were spent with no clear documentation on what.
“They had to borrow a million dollars to do the roof,” added Knight.
She said neighbors learned the association took out a massive loan to cover damage from Hurricane Irma. Shocked, she says, because they were expecting repairs to be covered by an insurance settlement.
Court records show in 2020 the Fairways HOA did receive $440,000 from the Irma settlement. Money owners said they never saw. Bank records from that month show a check from the HOA to BDM for $439,000, nearly the exact amount.
Curtis, who is also suing the Fairways over his termination explained the payment in an email to Local 10 News, writing, in part:
“The amount paid to BDM was almost four years of contractual obligations due by the association.”
“You’ve been managing this complex for four years this this and you are not been getting paid?” Knight asked, “We’re not stupid.”
Attorney David Haber, who specializes in condo law, said when it comes to investigating HOAs and property management companies, Florida has a resource problem.
“They’ve passed laws that says there could be civil penalties, criminal liability, that’s great,” said Haber. “Who’s out there checking?
“The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is there to enforce rules, but they don’t have the funds to enforce the rules and the laws. “They don’t have the money for all the investigators needed in all of the counties in Florida.”
The DBPR’s alleged shortcomings are well-documented. Back in 2016 a grand jury in Miami-Dade County issued a scathing report, calling the agency, which has broad responsibilities, “inept” and “nonchalant” regarding condo law enforcement. Ultimately it questioned whether oversight should go to another department.
“The DBPR needs to parse out and the Division of Condominiums needs to be its own department,” according to Haber, “There’s so many people living in condominiums.”
Last month residents of another BDM managed community went to the DBPR office in Fort Lauderdale after being unable to hold elections. They said an investigator met with them and told them they had to file a complaint online.
“So why are we paying taxes in the state of Florida to have an office here in Broward county with investigators if they’re not going to investigate anything?” asked Petra Bouwen, who went as an advocate for an elderly unit owner.
“The facts are on our side,” said Green, “What I’d hope to happen is that I’d like to see all the communities that he’s hurting, be reimbursed.”
“So I’m saying to these other communities, stick it out,” said Knight, “Don’t give up.”
Local 10 News requested an interview with the DBPR but were told no one was available.
In an email, DBPR Director of Communications Beth Pannell wrote, in part:
“There are over 140 employees within the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes working on a wide range of program areas. Over the past year, the Division has been working to ensure investigators and staff are trained to work all program areas and not designated to one particular field. In addition, CAM investigations are handled by our Division of Regulation. Those investigators are not specifically dedicated to CAMS—they work with many different professions.”
Local 10 News also reached out to Mike Curtis to get his response to the allegations and complaints. An attorney for Curtis asked Local 10 News to cease and desist from contacting him.