Property Manager/Realtor keeping rent, not paying owner, taxes, or HOA
Ok, first, thanks in advance for any advice I can get, I appreciate it. Been following Bigger Pockets for a while now, and your wonderful community has inspired me to get into real estate investing.
But, I have to deal with my current issue first.
I'm in Florida, and have leased the same condo for 12+ years. I have been on a month to month for many years.
For the last several (at least 5) years, the property manager/realtor who has been collecting rent has not been paying the owner, and pocketing the money. The owner of the condo had disappeared or died years earlier, and was apparently unreachable. I knew that the owner was hard to reach, because I couldn't get the PM/realtor to get in touch with him to put in an offer to purchase the place. (I know, big red flags should have gone up immediately)
I found this out when the realty company where he formerly worked called me to ask me about the rent check I had sent. I didn't think the PM was tied to another company, he had owned his own brokerage for years. According to the broker/owner I spoke with, the former pm/realtor had been keeping me "off the books".
The same day the president of the condo HOA knocked on my door (he's a good friend) to ask if I knew what was up with the HOA fee being late. I figured maybe he meant this month, but it turns out that it's many thousand dollars (about a year) behind on fees. He said that it had been paid sporadically in the past, once every so often, when the condo would threaten to get their attorney involved.
I then got onto the county tax collector's website to find out that the property taxes (which the PM/realtor was supposed to pay) haven't been paid since 2010. Many thousands are due for 2011, 2012, and 2013, and now the first quarter of 2014. There are no mortgages on the property, never have been, same owner for decades.
I'd like to keep living here, and buy this place, and I'm finally in a financial place to do so.
I've got an appointment with an attorney tomorrow to discuss my options. We will be working hard to find the owner or the owner's estate/representative.
We will also be discussing what to do about the HOA fees, taxes, realtor, etc. Specifically recourse against the realtor/PM.
Ok, so long story short, I'm looking for any advice or opinions as to my options.
Thank you so much in advance for any help!
@Fran R. wow what a story. The taxes, are the immediate concern the property can be sold for back taxes and everyone looses the option of owning it. I'm not sure about Florida laws but figure out the status of that issue would be my first priority.
Bill, thanks for the reply, much appreciated.
The 2011 tax certificate could be brought up for a tax deed sale/auction any time the certificate holder wants (now that we're past April 1). The taxes can be paid up until the moment the Clerk of Court signs the deed to the auction winner. The 2012 tax cert can be auctioned after next April 1 (2015)
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