breaking news

West Palm to remove Confederate monument; ‘We lost our patience’

Condo enforcement: Pay $25 late fee or… lose your home?


Highlights

At Ventura Greens in West Palm Beach, residents resist strict enforcement of condo association rules

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.

READ: HOA worker illegally spent $94,000 on hotels, engagement ring, purses

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 enforced.

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 at it.”

READ: Former West Palm condo board misspent more than $1 million

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.

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.”

READ: Palm Beach Gardens HOA fined $5,000 for chopping 20 pines

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.

Silva hasn’t been the only target of the association’s rule enforcers.

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.

READ: Lawsuit filed against Jupiter police chief for not paying HOA fees

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.”

READ: Ex-Boynton Beach HOA treasurer admits to embezzling over $50,000



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Florida woman admits showing pornography to child
Florida woman admits showing pornography to child

A Florida woman is accused of showing pornography to children. Police say Brianna Ricks, 19, of Alachua County showed pornographic images on her cellphone to children between the ages on 9 and 17, according to the Gainesville Sun. When confronted by authorities, Ricks admitted that she showed the video and photos, which came from social media...
Racegoer turns 40-cent bet into $259,573 at Florida track
Racegoer turns 40-cent bet into $259,573 at Florida track

A racegoer who placed a 40-cent bet at a Florida racetrack was rewarded with a $259,573.34 payoff. The unidentified person bought a ticket that includes six numbers, which represent a horse in each of the final six races of the day at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, according to the Orlando Sentinel. All six horses on the ticket won their races...
LATEST: Jupiter road-rage suspect tells FHP shooting pickup was ‘stupid’
LATEST: Jupiter road-rage suspect tells FHP shooting pickup was ‘stupid’

Michael Shepherd knew shooting into a pickup on Interstate 95 was “stupid.” But the 49-year-old was in a “cat and mouse game” with John Trevor Whiting early Friday and wanted Whiting in his Chevrolet pickup to back off, the Jupiter man told Florida Highway Patrol investigators. So Shepherd “fire(d) a shot across his...
LATEST: Florida police officers stop to play ball after responding to call
LATEST: Florida police officers stop to play ball after responding to call

As football season approaches, two police officers in Orlando were able to break out their football skills after responding to a call. The Orlando Police Department shared photographs on Facebook of two officers playing football with a child. The officers had just finished handling a call when they spotted the child playing football in the street...
NEW: South Florida woman points gun at family in latest road rage incident 
NEW: South Florida woman points gun at family in latest road rage incident 

A Florida woman was arrested after she pointed a gun at a family late Saturday night.  Christina Bonner, 29, of Northeast Miami-Dade, had a child and another passenger in the car when she started tailgating a man on U.S. 1 in Key Largo, according to the Miami Herald.  As she passed him, Bonner then pointed a gun at the 44-year-old North...
More Stories