Condo Meeting March 15, 2016

Portofino South, West Palm Beach, Board Meeting March 15, 2016

All board members present except K G who called in around the middle of the meeting.

It was announced that the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm going forward, Frank the manager will hold an open meeting. He invites all condo owners to come in and ask questions or voice complaints.

Martha board president mentioned that the four white boxes surrounding the entrance fountain were removed since nothing will grow because of the wind and chemicals in the fountain.

Martha also mentioned that the board would be willing to take questions or comments from the audience after the board has discussed a topic

A letter from B L about the website was brought up by BG. She said she had not seen it before she saw it in her packet before the meeting. H M said she had received it a week ago and took it upon herself to answer it. She read her letter saying the board had chosen the least costly option and the purpose of informing the owners was achieved. BG said the website was inadequate and that it was not generating that much info. GD mentioned that they had looked at much more expensive websites and rejected them. He had not been on the website yet. BG mentioned that condo owners should be automatically notified with new postings….one service which does that is called Constant Contact. The office said they were looking in to it.

GD gave financials: two condos in arrears for two months

Pool Discussion:

The total cost of repair was around $31,000. Still holding final payment as there are four missing tiles.

BG wanted a full accounting for the pool.

Pool project is complete and the temperature is holding at 86 degrees. Seems there is no more water leaking. Before it was leaking 3 to 4 inches a day. Auto fill is working.

Cooling Tower:

As it is so old that the whole thing might have to be rebuilt, we are talking about a large amount to repair. Engineer is being sought for this project.

Redoing the parking lots:

Redoing the parking lots is complicated by drainage problems. The board was given two engineers to choose from.

As there are three coats of sealant already on it, to fix sinkholes the ground must be dug up at least one or two feet for it to be refinished. The drainage problem could be handled in two different ways either by laying new pipe or by blowing new pipes into the old ones.

The city will get involved and will demand handicap parking on this side and dividers every 10 spaces. We will have to conform to current city code. We will lose some spaces.

We will have to hire site planners and landscapers who hopefully can deal with the city

This project could run about $500,000.00. Timeline is about 4 months.

M L asked if we could appeal some code requirements. It was mentioned that is what the site planners can help us do.

WE COULD BE ASKED FOR EACH CONDO OWNER TO BE ASSESSED

Sauna:

Frank’s work to clean it up was not successful so it has to be redone. Estimates were given for the special wood and the installation which is separate. Labor would be around $ 2500 ( Designer Builder)and cost of wood ( Finlanda) is about $2525. Board did not approve the expense as only one carpenter bid had been submitted.

A guest in # 912 was interviewed as she is staying longer than a month.

Decorating committee met

The audience asked:

Do you have flip or transfer taxes in Florida?

We should have a project manager as these jobs are so large and technical. We have three large jobs to complete and coordinated.

We are lucking to have Greg doing as much as he does.

PR said if we are thinking of spending such large amounts of money we should try to get good estimates for the projects and then tell the condo owners, who might want to sell their apartments.

All these contracts must be sent to the lawyer for review. The pool contract wasn’t sent to the lawyer, as it adds expense up front.

Frank called the insurance people and the pool lighting is sufficient for extended night hours. The pool is now open till 9:30 along with the barbecue.

Hopefully people will be respectful of noise. Doorman should be called with noise complaint and to check if the grill is shut off.

Status of the Docs:

BG deferred to PA

Once the docs (containing bylaws, rules & regulations, articles of incorporation) are finished the lawyer has instructed the board to give them to the condo owners for a yes or no vote, all or nothing. They have been in the works for about three years. The rules and regulations must be in your declaration of condo by laws, not separate, or they have no teeth.

Automated Debt-Collection Lawsuits Engulf Courts-NYT- 7/13/2010

As millions of Americans have fallen behind on paying their bills, debt collection law firms have been clogging courtrooms with lawsuits seeking repayment.

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

A court officer in Brooklyn. Federal regulators, collection lawyers and judges say collection lawsuits have increased and are straining the system.

Few have been as prolific as Cohen & Slamowitz, a Woodbury, N.Y., firm that has specialized in debt collection for nearly two decades. The firm has been filing roughly 80,000 lawsuits a year.

With just 14 lawyers on staff, that works out to more than 5,700 cases per lawyer.

How is that possible?

The answer to that question is at the heart of a growing debate over the increasing use of the nation’s legal system to collect on bad debts.

Like many other firms, Cohen & Slamowitz relies on computer software to help prepare its cases. While many of the cases represent legitimate claims, critics say the lawsuits are too often based on inaccurate or incomplete information about the debtor or the amount owed.

Already, some state legislators and judges have tried to crack down on collection lawsuits, and on Monday, the Federal Trade Commission weighed in, saying the system for resolving disputes over consumer debts was broken and in need of “significant reforms.”

The commission, which says debt collection is its top consumer complaint, proposed that states require collectors to include more information about debts in their lawsuits, including a breakdown of the current balance by principal, interest and fees, and the relevant terms of the original credit contract, if not the contract itself.

The agency also urged states to adopt measures to make it more likely that consumers would show up in court to defend themselves; currently, most do not, resulting in default judgments.

“We are pushing very hard to make certain that debt collectors have sufficient substantiation, particularly when a consumer challenges the debt,” said David Vladeck, director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The commission, which has limited authority to write debt collection rules, urged states to take action because most collection cases are filed in state courts.

The litigation boom has been propelled by fundamental changes in the way debts are collected, particularly for credit cards. In recent years, credit card companies have increasingly sold off debt they have considered uncollectible to debt buyers, usually for 5 cents or less on the dollar.

The debt buyers, in turn, may try to collect the debt themselves using traditional practices like sending letters or making phone calls to a consumer to try to arrange a payment plan. Increasingly, they are choosing to sue instead.

Collection law firms are able to handle such large volumes of cases because computer software automates much of their work. Typically, a debt buyer sends a law firm an electronic database that contains various data about consumers, including name, home address, the outstanding balance, the date of default and whether interest is still accruing on the account.

Once the data is obtained by a law firm, software like Collection-Master from a company called Commercial Legal Software can “take a file and run it through the entire legal system automatically,” including sending out collection letters, summonses and lawsuits, said Nicholas D. Arcaro, vice president for sales and marketing at the company.

No group has definitive statistics on debt collection lawsuits, but federal regulators, collection lawyers and judges say the numbers have increased and are straining the court system.

Most consumers fail to show up in court, and those who do rarely have a lawyer. A court judgment gives debt buyers the ability to collect on the debt through actions like wage or property garnishment.

“What they are hoping to recover is the full dollar on some of it,” said Robert J. Hobbs, deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group. “On most of it, they are hoping to recover 40 or 50 cents on the dollar. And they are hoping to do it with as little work as they can.”

Critics say the business model for some debt buyers and law firms relies on such huge volumes of legal actions that mistakes and abuses are inevitable, in part because the lawsuits are often based on little more than a defendant’s name, address and alleged balance.

“It’s the factory approach to practicing law,” said Richard Rubin, a New Mexico lawyer who represents consumers against debt collectors.

Lawsuits are sometimes filed against the wrong people, critics say. Other times, they say, the amount owed is incorrect or includes questionable fees and interest that has been added to the balance.

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Judge Noach Dear has tried to impose some standards on debt collection law firms.

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In addition, it is not always clear if the debt buyer filing suit legally owns the debt, since debt portfolios are often sold several times.

Some collection lawyers complain that new requirements being imposed are holding them to higher standards than even the original creditors.

“In actuality, it’s impossible to comply with,” said Pedro Zabala, a North Carolina lawyer, speaking of a law passed last fall that requires more documentation to file suit.

Fred N. Blitt, the president of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, which represents more than 700 law firms, said the increase in collection cases was an inevitable result of the huge number of people who are not paying their bills. Given the volume of cases, Mr. Blitt maintained that mistakes were few.

“The reality is, if people owe the money, they should pay it,” he said.

Cohen & Slamowitz declined to be interviewed for this article. In a 2009 deposition for a case accusing Cohen & Slamowitz of pursuing a debt that had already been paid, a partner at the firm, David A. Cohen, said the firm had 14 lawyers, though it also hired numerous outside lawyers to appear in court on a per diem basis. It also employed 30 to 40 legal secretaries and paralegals and about 60 people trying to collect debts, he said.

The firm filed 59,708 cases in 2005, 83,665 in 2006, 87,877 in 2007 and 80,873 in 2008, records from the lawsuit show.

As the case load has increased, some state legislators and judges have started to demand more information on the debt.

In addition to the new law in North Carolina, which requires third-party debt collectors to provide more proof of the debt, like an itemization of charges and fees, some local judges are challenging lawyers who are not prepared to back up their claims.

At a civil court hearing in Brooklyn in March, Judge Noach Dear demanded documents from Cohen & Slamowitz supporting its claim that Herman Johnson of Brooklyn owed $3,797.27 in credit card debt. Mr. Johnson disputed the claim.

“What proof did you have that this is the true gentleman that you were trying to pursue?” the judge asked David Robinson, a lawyer for Cohen & Slamowitz, according to a transcript.

“Just his Social, his date of birth, and his address and the account,” Mr. Robinson said.

“That’s all you have?” the judge said. “So if you have somebody’s Social number, date of birth and address, you could sue them without any other information?”

Mr. Johnson’s case was dismissed, and Judge Dear last month issued an order requiring, among other things, that Cohen & Slamowitz provide further proof of a debt if a defendant challenged the firm’s claim.

In an interview, Judge Dear said he did not think the order would necessarily result in a large drop-off in lawsuits. But, he said, given Cohen & Slamowitz’s size, he hoped it would persuade other law firms to follow suit.

“I think personally it will weed out the cases that are no good, and then we’ll get the defendants that truly do owe a debt,” he said.

Condo Bill Just Passed

Condo bill headed to Governor

Palm Beach Post

by Kimberly Miller | April 28th, 2010

Despite bi-partisan attempts to amend a 100-page condominium association bill, it was passed this morning with no additions _ a 107 to 4 vote that sends it to the governor.

South Florida Republicans and Democrats wanted more power to police condo associations inserted into SB 1196, but bill sponsor Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said any amendments would force the Senate to refuse the legislation with just three days left in the session.

Several House members said that logic made no sense, referring to other bills, including the so called “jobs bill” that were amended and sent back to the Senate.

“We make decisions for this chamber. We are not a subset of the Senate,” said Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton.

The proposed law would require lenders to pay a full year’s worth of back fees when they take title to a property through foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Current law requires them to pay only six months of fees.

Also, associations would be able to directly collect rent from tenants living in units of delinquent owners, something that currently requires a court order called a blanket receivership. And non-paying owners or tenants renting units of delinquent owners could be banned from common areas, such as the pool or clubhouse.

Another provision delays a requirement to install fire sprinklers in some common areas from 2014 to 2019.

Although supported by the majority of lawmakers, those on the front lines aren’t sure how much effect the bill will actually have.

Tenants that are seasonal residents

Just My Opinion:

I think it is very unfair to have a meeting on important issues in the middle of June. As you can see by looking up at our building a lot of people have left the area. People who are seasonal might believe that this meeting is deliberately late so those of you who live here all year round can have your way. I am glad I started this blog, even though it was not intended for this purpose, but isn’t it nice to see what people think that can not attend a meeting. I  will attend my first meeting and will take notes and post the meeting on the blog for all to see and hopefully receive  their opinion.

Also I do not think it is illegal to post a list of delinquent residents on this blog as my club does it each month and it really gets people to pay, and pay quickly.

I bought my apartment in late January and was shown a very healthy financial statement and was told that there was money to do all the things on the calendar and was also told not to expect an assessment in this calendar year…..5 months later we are talking assessment.

Vicki Ross

By the pool gossip: Delinquent owners

I was told that we have 30 % of the building are delinquent on their maintenance, either in foreclosure or just not paying. Does anyone have a list of those people as I think we should post it on this blog before the meeting?  In January, I thought I was buying into a very well financed building and that does not seem to be the case just 6 months later. If someone has the list please email it to Parker Reid and lets expose it to the rest of the owners.