Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published June 12, 2017
David Silva’s $340,000 condo faces foreclosure because of
a $25 late fee.
Silva, a resident at Ventura Greens at
Emerald Dunes since 2007, was having his bank make automatic
payments of the monthly maintenance fee for his
three-bedroom, 2½-bath townhouse on the outskirts of West
Palm Beach just west of Florida’s Turnpike. But the 70-unit
development changed property managers in 2014 without
advance notice and his payment was never rerouted to the
condo association, he said.
By the time he learned of the problem and sent a payment to
the new property manager, the association had charged him a
$25 late fee. While he disputed the fee, which he insisted
was the association’s fault, the association tacked on late
fees, attorney fees and interest charges — and in 2015, the
association filed a foreclosure suit that threatens to take
away his home.
Neither association President Vic Bally, nor Cory Kravit,
the association’s Boca Raton collections lawyer who filed
the foreclosure suit, would comment for this story. The
association vice president, Geoffrey Bourne, called Silva
“unbelievably difficult” and said association rules must be
Ventura Green at Emerald Dunes, off Jog Road at
Okeechobee Boulevard in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
Bourne defended Bally’s hard line on community rules. “If you drive into
Ventura Greens, it’s beautiful,” Bourne said. “If you’re president of it,
you keep the rules or the place falls apart.”
“The whole thing has built up into just monstrous folly,
absolute folly,” Bourne said. “I just wish David Silva had been a little
more mature,” he said, adding that Silva should have paid his fine and ended
the matter years ago.
Silva, 52, a retired New York state trooper, countered that Bourne doesn’t
know the facts, only what Bally tells him.
“It’s not a matter of $25,” Silva said. “I spent more money fighting this
than the $25. They should have said, ‘You know what? This is ridiculous.
This is our fault.’ But they want to pursue it because they want to
maliciously and intentionally take my home. There’s no other way of looking
Silva and five other current and former Ventura Greens
homeowners, and some former property management companies — there have been
at least eight in the development’s 11 years of existence — say enforcement
there is dictatorial. They lay the blame on Bally, describing him as a
vindictive man who “rules with an iron fist,” tows resident cars from
visitor parking spaces while board members park unpunished in the same
spaces, files liens and slaps big fines on residents for alleged infractions
they seldom have the will to fight.
Vic Bally, president of the Ventura Greens at Emerald
Dunes Condominium Association Inc.
One of the development’s former property managers, Bristol Management,
notified the Ventura Greens board in September 2013 that it was quitting,
writing that “Protecting our employees from constant harassment by Vic Bally
… is our priority.”
Vic (Bally), who hired Bristol and then quickly resigned
when he did not get his way from the rest of the elected board, has caused
an inordinate amount of contention, …” wrote Bristol’s Steve Inglis. “Mr.
Bally is attempting to reassert his dictatorial control over Ventura Greens.
This makes for a combative culture under which it is impossible to achieve
the board’s goals. There is constant bullying from one person who demands to
be the captain of what we perceive to be a sinking ship.”
Just seven months later, when Bally had returned to the board as vice
president, another management company, Banyan Property Management, quit,
calling the board “dysfunctional.”
Yet another former manager, who asked not to be identified, echoed those
sentiments. “The guy is out of control,” the manager said. “There were
constant allegations of biased treatment, unfair application of rules.
That’s why we didn’t get along with him very well. I run things in a fair
manner. … He runs the place with an iron fist.”
Asked why the association has run through so many property managers, Bourne
said it’s because the board has been trying to hire better companies.
David Silva’s townhouse at 2789 Eagle Rock Circle,
Unit 201, in Ventura Green at Emerald Dunes, faces foreclosure for
failure to pay a $25 late fee.
Silva hasn’t been the only target of the association’s
Nasaire Fontia said he got a $400 fine for allegedly “driving my car over a
piece of grass,” an allegation he questioned and for which the association
had no proof, he said.
Others, he said, had to pay hundreds of dollars for towing from visitor
spots, even though board and committee members frequently park in the same
places. One resident got a $2,000 fine for failing to trim a bougainvillea
prior to the association painting the buildings, Fontia said.
READ: Fight about truck with HOA president gets man arrested
Resident Jeff Lanaghan said he was facing a $1,000 fine in 2014 for failing
to remove a satellite dish he had permission to install in 2008. The
association had changed its rules. Lanaghan took the case to the state
Division of Condominiums and won.
“I couldn’t let it drop, Lanaghan said. “I had a package almost
three-quarters-of-an-inch thick for all the committee members to review.”
Former resident Joe Namgoong sold his townhouse in November. “I couldn’t
deal with all the fines he kept levying on me,” Namgoong said.
Namgoong, who lives in Washington, D.C., was renting out his unit. When his
tenants moved out, he found another couple to move in but Bally would not
approve them, saying their credit scores — 750 and 650 — weren’t high
enough, even though those are considered good scores and the previous
tenants had scores in the low-600s, Namgoong said.
Then there was the fine he got for weeds growing near his patio.
When he finally sold the place, and was supposed to get back the $500
deposit the association had required for him to rent out the unit, he said
the association claimed his contractor had damaged a piece of fence and the
association withheld $300, plus a $50 administrative fee. “They were going
to give me back $150.”
Others report that fines have been issued for a paver missing from a
driveway, a garbage can left out too long or for use of a visitor space
instead of following a rule that says you can only use a visitor space if
three cars already are parked in your driveway.
As for Silva’s foreclosure case, he said he looks forward to a trial.
“Everything will come out in court,” he said: “All the details, all the
evidence, all the documents.”
“I’m not going to be bullied by him,” he said. “If everybody just throws
their hands up in the air and gives up, this is what happens.”