Chinese drywall problem puts Parkland residents in financial bind

The economy and the Chinese drywall problem are teaming up to bedevil some Heron Bay residents, who say they should not be punished for their inability to pay maintenance fees.

John Willis, who lives in the gated Banyan Isles subdivision, calls unfair an edict that residents who don’t pay before May 1 will find their gate clickers deactivated. He said residents have been forced to move out of their homes because of the tainted drywall and are struggling with rental costs and mortgages.

“The Chinese drywall victims have to incur a whole new set of living expenses,” he said. “Don’t humiliate them by making them sit in lines for visitors while they are trying to maintain their properties while they are living somewhere else. Almost all of them are hoping to come back.”

On April 13, the management company that oversees Heron Bay for developer WCI issued the warning in a letter to homeowners in its 31 subdivisions in Parkland and Coral Springs.

United Community Management Corp. also told them: “Efforts to obtain unauthorized access to the community through the resident lanes such as tail-gating and running the gates will not be tolerated. Damage to the gates will be billed to homeowner accounts accordingly.”

WCI spokeswoman Connie Boyd said Friday all the 2,500 homeowners in Heron Bay must pay in order to keep up communal responsibilities such as landscaping, road lighting and insurance.

“It is an obligation and there is not an exception,” Boyd said from the company’s Bonita Springs headquarters. “There is a budget they have to meet to run the community and pay for services.”

Maintenance fees vary by subdivision. In Banyan Isles, the fee is $529.40 per quarter, or about $176 a month, Willis said.

He is seeking an exception for residents whose houses had Chinese drywall, which has been blamed for corroded copper pipes, bad smells and health problems.

An estimated 300 homes in Parkland contain the drywall. There are 36 documented homes in Banyan Isles, and 10 in Sabal Pointe, Willis said. He expects the final number to be closer to 100.

Willis said he plans to move his wife and two young sons into a rental house in Heron Bay by the end of the month. He expects his house will have to be knocked down and rebuilt.

Mayor Michael Udine sent a letter to WCI on Friday urging them to change their policy. “They should not be required to suffer twice if their problems were caused by others,” he wrote.

Problems with Chinese drywall forced Banyan Isles resident Holly Krulik to move into her parents’ house with her husband and two children.

She is paying her mortgage and maintenance fees and thinks her neighbors who have to pay rent should get a break.

She has one word for the idea of denying quick access to those homeowners: “absurd.”

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at lhuriash@sunsentinel.com or 954-572-2008.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/wsfl-dry-wall-story,0,2094206.story?track=rss

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