Loophole lets corps force homeowners out

Palm Harbor, Florida -- Imagine living in your home and someone knocks on your door and says you have to sell, whether you want to or not -- and at a price the buyer establishes. It almost sounds un-American, but because of a quirky state law it is perfectly legal.

Karen Rehs who lives at Madison Oaks Condominiums in Palm Harbor is caught in the legal loophole. She paid $130,000 for her condo several years ago and now a corporation is offering her $40,000 and telling her she has to get out. Rehms says she can't take the $90,000 loss and doesn't want to leave.

Stephanie Krasowski is in the same boat. She paid $162,000 for her unit back in 2007 and now is being offered $82,000 and being told she too must leave.

Susan Montoya is close to tears as she explains, "They're making me do something I don't want. And that I worked so hard to get."

That's why these and several other condo owners were meeting with state lawmakers Thursday night. They are being forced out of their condos by corporations that are using the loophole in a law passed in 2007. We've been trying for months to get the corporations to talk, but have had doors slammed in our face as we've tried to approach representatives for the corporations trying to take over.

The law allows a corporation to force termination of the condominium if it gets 80 percent control. Then it can then force the other owners out at what the corporation determines is a fair market price. Sally Wolfe has received her termination notice from her Madison Oaks condo in Palm Harbor.

We asked her if before this she would believe that someone could knock on her door and say you must sell to us whether you want to or not. Wolfe told us, "It's outrageous it is outrageous!"

Krasowski agrees saying, "It breaks my heart and it's hard to believe I could be in a situation."

Meanwhile, Palm Harbor Representative Carl Zimmerman is turning to the governor for help.

"What I'm really hoping for is that the governor issues an executive order and puts a stay on this."

And while the lawmakers say they want to take action, it may take an executive order from the governor to help the people here at Madison Oaks, because the process is so far down the road, by the time the legislature meets next year they could be out on the street.


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