Jack Latvala bill protecting condo owners clears Senate committee


A bill aimed at ensuring condo owners aren’t forced to sell their homes for pennies on the dollar unanimously passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1172 sponsored by Clearwater state Sen. Jack Latvala is a direct answer to an oversight in 2007 legislation that allowed investors buying condo units in bulk to scoop up control of condos and convert them into apartments. Remaining tenants were then forced to sell their units for pennies on the dollar.

That bill allowed the bulk buyers to vote to convert the complex into all rentals once they hit 80 percent ownership. The remaining owners were then left with no choice but to sell and often got low-balled.

Latvala’s bill requires the bulk-owners to pay fair market value for the condos when that happens.

“This is a serious problem that has not only impacted several of my constituents but Floridians all across the state,” Latvala said.  “It’s shameful that some people have used a loophole in Florida law to not only displace people, but give them a low ball price for their home.  This bill goes a long way in giving individual unit owners more of a voice in this bulk buying process.”

While the bill would do little to soothe the heartache associated with being forced from a home, the legislation would require owners to be paid either fair market value or 110 percent of the purchase price of the condo – whichever is greater. It would also require the buyer to pay relocation costs.

Other protections would be in place including giving unit owners more time to stay in their homes, protecting their association voting rights while the apartment conversion is being discussed and creates an 18-month waiting period for attempts to terminate an owner’s residence after such an effort has already been rejected. That final provision protects unit owners from harassment.

Latvala’s bill heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Clearwater state Rep. Chris Sprowls has sponsored similar legislation that is pending in the House.



Previous articleBrother, former president to attend Jeb Bush fundraiser
Next articleHouse wants to cut taxes on cellphones and textbooks
Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.