POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — Tony and Sonya Nieto were walking to their car from their waterfront condominium, Ocean Monarch, in Pompano Beach Tuesday. They had to cross five lanes of busy A1A to get to a Wells Fargo lot where they park their 12-year-old van.
“I would like to see us be able to park on condo property where the car is safe and we’re safer,” said Sonya.
Sonya, 75, knows something about safety. She took a terrible spill in the middle of A1A last year while lugging home her groceries. She suffered injuries to her legs, face and arms and has been seeing doctors and chiropractors since. When the Nieto’s bought their unit, they say management promised them parking.
“‘We can always have a spot available for you, there’s always something available here,'” Tony quotes a manager as telling them. “We decided to buy it, because they told us we could park here.”
For nine years they parked in the condo’s garage for no charge. But ten years ago they say management imposed a $100 a month parking fee. They’ve refused, and so they make the trip across the highway to the bank lot. Wells Fargo has allowed them to park in the lot out of the goodness of its heart.
“It’s frightening. It’s frightening trying to cross that highway, especially during the season, and especially after I took a really bad fall,” Sonya said.
The Nietos say they pay whopping annual condo fees – more than $5,000 a year.
“We also paid to have the entire garage upper and lower level re-surfaced. We had to pay for that, and we don’t get to use it,” Tony said.
He has a large cardboard box filled with letters to a variety of local, state and federal agencies. He’s complained to everyone he can think of, including the governor, but no luck. Some have told the Nietos to hire a lawyer. The couple says they can’t afford to hire a lawyer, or pay another $1,200 a year to park.
The condominium bylaws say “…one parking space has been assigned or purchased per apartment.” It is a somewhat vague line, and Tony didn’t get the parking space in writing on his sales agreement, even though he insists it was clearly promised in discussions with management before he bought.
A spokesperson for the property management company, First Service Residential, said there’s no “documentation that a parking space was deeded to his unit.”
Tony counters a deal is a deal, written or verbal. He still hopes to find board members from nearly two decades ago to corroborate his position that parking spaces were included in the sales price.
“I’m an owner here. It’s not fair. It’s not right,” Tony said.
Nonetheless, the long trek across the highway to the Nieto’s car goes on.
Help for owners who think they’ve been wronged may be on the way. The legislature has passed a bill broadly expanding the rights of condominium owners. It would establish an office in South Florida to deal exclusively with complaints. The measure still requires Governor Rick Scott’s signature.