Tenant Sues Condo Association For Price Gouging On Application Fees
A tenant at Quantum on the Bay in the Omni district finally did something about the high application fees that are being charged to prospective tenants, according to the Miami Herald. He is suing them because their application fees are in excess of the $100 cap that the Florida statute issues.
This has been an ongoing problem for tenants in many of the Downtown area buildings for several years. Some condo associations use these elevated fees in order to avoid having to make a special assessment on the unit owners for repairs or upgrades. The association at Quantum once had a $400 application fee, but it was later reduced to $150 after so many potential tenants complained. In order to continue bringing the income that they once received from the application fees, they split it into the application fee plus the administrative fees. Some other buildings have ‘impact fees’ of $500, but Quantum is one of the highest priced buildings in the area for a tenant to apply for.
Even though it is not lawful for a building to charge these exorbitant fees to tenants, many still do. The tenants really have no choice but to accept the fees. Protesting only causes delay and added expenses. If they miss their move-in date, they would need to stay at a hotel until the issue is resolved and there is still no guarantee that it would be resolved in their favor without a lawsuit. The Government Affairs department of our Miami Association of Realtors has been lobbying in Tallahassee for some time already, trying to convince them to enforce the laws.
Now, most buildings also charge a security deposit for the common areas and for pets, but that is different. Security deposits are returned. We typically see a security deposit that is held through the duration of the lease in order to guarantee there will not be damage to the common areas, a smaller security deposit for the actual move to guarantee that the elevators and hallways are not damaged by the movers and/or a pet deposit to the building.
You can read more about the Florida Condominium Act here, so that you know your rights. While it seems that Quantum is being singled out, this is a large problem throughout the marketplace and something that we are striving to change. On a day to day basis, the best we can do is see that our clients get settled as peacefully and efficiently as possible. On a larger scale, we are very much a part of the efforts from the Miami Association of Realtors to bring change to this practice.