and Video Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
May 27, 2010
of residents at the Atlantic Palms condominium complex could be evicted
from their homes within two weeks if they're unable to pay a city utility
bill of more than $7,000.
officials say more than 60 of the 76 units at Atlantic
Palms, at 400 NW 65th Ave., are in different stages of
foreclosure, and their homeowners association can't afford
to pay the water bill.
Now, the city has posted notices on residents' doors
saying they have until 6 p.m. June 3 to pay their water
and sewer fees. If residents don't pay, their water
service will be shut off June 7, and they will be forced
to leave because of health concerns.
"I'm going to lose my home. I'm trying to do a
[loan] modification to save my home," said Etienne Rodriguez, 37, a
three-year resident whose condo is in foreclosure proceedings after he was
laid off from his sprinkler installation job. "I think the city
should give these people an opportunity if we can come up with the
Tepps, a Plantation-based lawyer representing Atlantic
Palms, said their financial struggle is common among
homeowners associations across South Florida.
"This illustrates the difficulties that associations
are having," Tepps said. "Many people are having
a hard time. I'm hoping they can raise the money. Or else,
they're going to be required to leave. It can become a
A 2009 survey by the Condominium Associations Institute
— a national advocacy and lobbying group with chapters
throughout Florida — found 13 percent of condo
associations statewide were
serious problems because of delinquencies caused by foreclosures and
owners who stopped paying.
Margate City Manager Frank Porcella said it's been almost a year since the
city began trying to help Atlantic Palms' residents with their debt.
don't want it to come to that [evictions]," Porcella
said. "Our track record has shown that we've been
working with them since July. We certainly don't want to
put them out on the street. But we need to resolve this
The latest water and sewer bill has been lowered from
about $10,000 "to soften the blow," Porcella
said. But it would be unfair to other utility customers if
the city waived all of Atlantic Palms' bills, he said. The
city has agreed to pay garbage bills in exchange for
property liens, he said.
The city also previously cleaned the community pool,
which on Tuesday was cordoned off because its water was dirty.
The complex's four buildings each have one water meter, so each building
has its own water bill. Building A owes $1,102; Building B, $1,216;
Building C, $3,139; and Building D, $1,777.
Residents in the buildings that pay their bills will be allowed to stay.
Some residents said they are trying to rally neighbors to pay the debt but
are unsure if they'll succeed.
"I'm panicking," said Raynande Moise, 42, a mother of two who
recently had open heart surgery. "We can't afford to move."
Milord Pierre Fils, 42, has shared a condo with his cousin for two years.
Asked where he would go if he was evicted, he replied: "I don't know