Near Tragedy At Palms West Condominiums

guest blog by Nila Ridings

This story sends chills down my spine. Shoddy electrical work that was done at this Hialeah, Florida condo complex swimming pool nearly cost some children and the adult rescuers their lives. City records indicate NO PERMITS WERE PULLED before this “electrical” work (should be called electrocution work) was done on the pool.

Once again, as we’ve heard thousands, probably tens of thousands of times, the HOA or condo board hired some “jack of all trades” (who actually knows little to nothing at all) to do a job that only a licensed contractor should have been performing. The risks are too high not to hire professionals! The consequences can be catastrophic and deadly.

Was the board trying to save a few bucks? There is no “savings” worth risking injury or death as these condo owners are about to find out. Who knows if these children will suffer life-long effects from this one event? It could take years to learn the extent of their injuries. Just wait until the personal injury attorneys start circling and offering their services for a contingency fee! I can see it now. The finger pointing and lies and cover-ups will be countless. The attorneys already know every resident of the condo or homeowners association can be forced to pay damages. It’s that minor detail that buyers are never told about when they are looking to buy a home or condo.

I must say, if I was in charge of electrical work on a community swimming pool not only would I hire a licensed electrician, but I would hire a second one to double check the work of the first one. And I would ask to see their license and proof of insurance. I would add their names and contact information on the work order.

Whoever hired the person that did the work on this swimming pool should be charged with negligence and be sentenced to jail right along with the person who made a mess of the wiring. And if that person is part of a CAI property management company they should be paying all of the lawsuit settlements.

I’ve personally observed this in my own HOA. Shoddy work by “carpenters” who don’t know which end of the hammer to use and a CAI property manager who instructed them to do things that should never be done. Risking the safety of everyone living in these units due to rotten frames which was caused by failed maintenance on the exterior siding.

It’s long past time to stop this dangerous and risky stupidity!

The only good thing that will come from this will be the exposure to the fallacies and massive risks that one takes when they buy in an HOA or Condo Association!!!

(link to Local10 news story on this tragedy)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

4 thoughts on “Near Tragedy At Palms West Condominiums

  1. Shelly

    Thanks for calling attention to this, Nila. I do think boards have a responsibility to get the work done right, but I also think they should “shop around” for better deals as if they were spending their own money. Often boards hire vendors recommended by managers and attorneys who are very expensive (the CAI vendors) and don’t even try to get bids or keep costs down. On the other hand, they often hire friends and relatives (unqualified) to throw work to people they like–not necessarily for kickbacks–just to do others a favor. Being a board member is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. And I’m preaching to the choir again so I’ll shut up!

  2. Deborah Goonan

    This news report highlights that TENANTS as well as OWNERS are at risk in poorly regulated Condominiums and HOAs. Better to rent an apartment in a professionally managed and owned non-condominium rental community.

    1. Nila Ridings

      I agree, Deborah. The ideal place to live is a small apartment building managed by the owner. Maintenance issues are addressed immediately to avoid bigger and more expensive problems, tenants stay much longer, the buildings and grounds tend to be kept cleaner, and the owner appreciates good tenants.

      My Dad designed, built, and owned two six unit apartment buildings when I was growing up. The same renters stayed for decades. The buildings were kept immaculate. My high school spending money came from keeping the laundry rooms clean, swept, trash emptied, and the machines dirt, dust, and spot-free. Whatever was in the money pan was my pay. Dad always wondered how I could be making so much money at my “laundry room” job. Years later, I confessed to him that I would tell his tenants to tell their friends to bring their laundry with them when they came to visit!

      No matter where I went in high school my form of payment was in quarters!

      Before I bought in this HOA nightmare, I sold myself out of house and home. I rented one of those apartments for a few months. At 50 years old, those buildings are still as nice as they were when they were built. The owner takes care of them just the way my Dad did. And some of the tenants had lived there until they passed away and that was just before I moved in!

      I’m 100% convinced that living in a nice well-maintained rental with a responsible owner is the way to go. And you just can’t beat having neighbors that are always happy to see you.

  3. Nila Ridings

    I hear you, Shelly!

    The problem lies when the blind is leading the blind nobody knows where they are going. (mostly in circles) Board members rarely have any construction knowledge, or know how to interview vendors or skilled labor, and have no clue about project or financial management.

    Yet, they think with no knowledge they are capable of running a multi-million dollars operation that requires strategic planning, extensive financial management knowledge, and people management skills.

    In desperation they turn to the local CAI property manager who turns on his “stupid” gauge and when the needle never raises off of zero he knows the cash cow is going to produce like a vending machine with a broken coin mechanism. That’s right, the money is going to pour into his pockets without question or hesitation. It’s too tempting to walk away from. He knows there is no chance of “stupid” being fixed.

    In 2008 we had a woman that ran for the board and was elected. I asked her about her qualifications. She said,”well, I’m a retired French teacher and I sent students to France to study for the summers.” She literally thought that gave her the business knowledge to run this HOA. Guess what? She’s running for the board again this years, unopposed, so we’re about to experience some more of her “skills” in an already devastated and bottomed-out HOA! This time she’s six years older and has experience as the “Hamburger Bash” planner.


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