What I find intriguing about this story is that the allegations being made by Bella Collina owners are strikingly similar to allegations made by owners of moderately priced and “affordable” condominiums in Florida and other states across the country.
Common objections of owners typically include the following:
Many planned units have never been completed or sold
Amenities were never built or renovated as promised
Developer or investor-controlled board approves outrageous special assessments and demands immediate payment
Maintenance of portions of the common areas or amenities are neglected, reducing appraised value of homes
Developer or investor then forces association members to sell their units or parcels back at artificially low prices
For a little history of Bella Collina, see this 2014 article:
Construction restarts in luxury Bella Collina ‘ghost town’
Of course, most condo owners have limited financial resources, making it much more difficult for them to take legal action.
But if Bella Collina homeowners are successful in court, could that open to door to class action lawsuits in response to hostile condo association takeovers, especially the kind that force condominium termination upon unwilling owners?
Also of note: even sophisticated and affluent home buyers can be exploited. According to the Orlando Sentinel article, the attorney for owners at Bella Collina also alleges that the developer negotiated “illegal” contracts, no doubt by way of confidential, out-of-court settlements.
How many current and former owners of association-governed property have been intimidated or coerced into unfair secret settlements? No one knows for sure, because legal negotiations happen in the shadows, and owners are threatened with future litigation leading to financial ruin if they dare break the gag order.
The fact that a small group of owners at Bella Collina have the courage to stand up for their rights is remarkably rare.