FL condo owners fail to disclose sinkhole threat to tenants

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


On the heels of the many Buyer Beware stories here on IAC, this one is for tenants.

I can’t tell you how many times I read these kinds of stories or hear from owners and residents that find out about major health and safety issues in their home only after they have moved into an Association-Governed Housing Community.

At Manhattan Palms in West Tampa, according to ABC Action News (WFTS), condo owners have known about the presence of sinkholes for at least 5 years. In fact, they have even filed a lawsuit against their insurance company, who has refused to pay claims for damages and repairs.

Yet, if you watch the video below, you will hear from concerned condo tenants that have never been told about the threat of sinkholes. Several have already reported sinkholes to their landlords or the manager, and have been forced to relocate on short notice. For families with limited incomes and children living at home, that can be quite a hardship. However, it’s preferable to putting one’s family at risk for being swallowed up by a giant sinkhole.

How can this be allowed to happen? Well, the condo association says that each owner-landlord is responsible for disclosing the threat of sinkholes to tenants. So the association manager remains silent on the issue! Most renters apply through the management office, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Of course, it defies common sense and common decency that anyone would sell or rent a property to someone without disclosing significant risks. Yet our state laws allow this to happen with increasing regularity.

Take for example the case of Connecticut condominiums with a defective concrete foundations. The law says the owner of each unit has the duty to disclose the problem, and that the association does not have to tell prospective buyers about potentially costly repairs to rebuild crumbling concrete foundations. But earlier this year, Pati Cucuzzo learned that her condo has a defective concrete foundation when a potential buyer’s home inspector noticed the problem. But Cucuzzo says that the condo association knew about the problem when she purchased her unit in 2011, but she was never told about it by the seller or the condo association.

Clearly, there’s a need to mandate that Associations provide full disclosure of defects to owners, buyers, and tenants alike.

NO excuses or passing the buck to individual owners.


Renters said landlords failed to tell them about potentially dangerous sinkholes in their complex
Law says landlords must disclose if in their unit

11:28 PM, Dec 5, 2016 (WFTS ABC Action News)

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s one of Floridians’ worst nightmares… A sinkhole near your home.

But what if your landlord knew about it and didn’t tell you before you signed a lease?

Several local renters say that’s exactly what happened to them.

“The floors started dipping. it was pretty bad because it was right where my kids’ beds were,” said Keith Sanders, who rented in apartment at the Manhattan Palms Condominium in West Tampa.

“I worry a lot, because you don’t know,” said Diana Frias, who also rents a unit at the complex.

The condo’s property management company sent a letter to owners describing “confirmed active sinkholes throughout the property” that “have been determined to be affecting the entire property”.

Read more, VIDEO:


Believe it or not, you can buy a condo at Manhattan Palms for a mere pittance:

Unit for sale $31,900 – sinkhole included!

Details and History of Manhattan Palms Condominiums:

  • According to the ABC Action News, 80% of units are rented to tenants with low incomes.
  • Constructed in 1974. Apartments are relatively spacious with 2, 3, or 4 bedrooms suitable for families with children.
  • Fire in 2013 displaced 8 families. Police reported a double shooting with one fatality at the complex in July, probably drug related.


1 thought on “FL condo owners fail to disclose sinkhole threat to tenants

  1. I am just curious, as to where the county or city comes in to play, unsafe structures as in building codes, they too must take a part of blame if these buildings are unsafe due to recent sinkhole activity would that not also fall under compliance with inspection and enforcement which render properties substandard or unsafe to live in. Building Code Enforcement.

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