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Condo owners priced out of their homes

Brawdy bought her 810-square-foot condo unit in 2022. She described the purchase as “a huge deal” because she was only 21-years-old at the time and not many Americans of that age have the opportunity to buy their own property.

“It was great up until April 23 of this year when everything started going completely downhill,” she said. “That’s when we were provided a letter in the mail that literally has pretty much changed all of our lives.”

The letter came from Brawdy’s condo association board of directors. It stated that, by Florida law, the condo needed to fill up its reserves by “millions of dollars” and the board would soon vote on a plan to collect that money from unit owners.

Brawdy explained: “First, there will be a special assessment fee, which will help to fully fund our [condo association’s] reserves — and this fee would range from $11,148 to $22,104. My 810-square-foot unit home would be assessed a $15,569 fee. Fifty percent of this would be due June 30 and the other 50% would be due July 31.”

She said that on top of the special assessment fee, they would also raise the monthly HOA dues, effective June 1. “I would go from paying $651 a month to $1,824 a month,” she said

That would result in an “exorbitant” annual HOA fee of $21,888, on top of Brawdy’s ongoing mortgage payments — which is not what she signed up for when she bought the property.

After her TikTok quickly went viral, Brawdy told the DailyDot she will likely be priced out of her home. She said: “It doesn’t seem like there are many options to fight this, so I will probably be forced to sell. I anticipate the sale being much less than market value.”

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Florida fee hikes

Brawdy is by no means alone in suffering serious HOA fee hikes. This is a common tale across the Sunshine State — and it stems back to the tragic Surfside condo collapse in 2021, which resulted in the deaths of 98 people.

After the Surfside incident, Florida rushed new regulations (SB 4-D) into place, requiring all condo developments over 30 years old (about two-thirds of condos in the state) to inspect their buildings, address critical issues and build up their reserve funds for future repairs by Dec. 31, 2024.

Brawdy sais she understands the fees need to be paid and the reserves need to be funded to promote safety and deter future tragedies like Surfside. But, with a $15,569 bill potentially heading her way, she asked the potent question: “Who has thousands of dollars lying around to be due in literally two months?

“I don’t know where I personally would come up with the money. I have a full time job, I work 40 hours a week, but I don’t make enough money to have that much money saved up. And it’s not just me — there’s so many families that live here and elderly people … these are real people and real lives that are being affected.”

In a ClickOrlando article about a similar situation in another Orlando condo — which has a shortfall of over $17 million in its reserves — local attorney Keith Skorewicz, who is representing the Regency Gardens Condominiums association, said: “The goal is to adequately fund reserves to keep the property safe and comply with [Florida] law.”

Addressing residents’ concerns about why they have to cough up thousands of extra dollars in such a short period of time, Skorewicz said, “Safety. The unit owners have enjoyed artificially low assessments for years because the law permitted waiver of saving such funds for a rainy day. The rainy day is here.”

He continued, “Again, the property needs work and certainly the residents agree. Many of the items of deferred maintenance, including but not limited to, building exterior, wood siding, and certain electrical systems have zero remaining years left according to the engineers, so the work must be funded, staged and completed on a short timeline.”


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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.


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