Tampa condo owners, current on mortgages, may lose homes

TAMPA BAY, FL (WFLX) - Some Florida condo owners are fuming over the fact they are current on their mortgages and condo fees, but they could still lose their homes.

"I never ever contemplated that someone could come in and just take it from me," said Stephanie Krasowski. She bought her condo at just the wrong moment -- when Florida home prices were about to come crashing down.

She put 20 percent down on a $163,000 unit. Now, she claims, investors are forcing her to sell for just $50,000 as they convert this condo complex into rental apartments. "The termination process that's going on here is just for the financial gain of the bulk buyer."

That's why the remaining owners are suing. Most of them bought at the height of the boom, just before Tampa homes lost half their values.

Many of the owners are underwater on their mortgages. "Yeah, I made a terrible financial decision to buy in at the time that I did, but I did it. I'm a big girl, and I've dealt with that. I've continued to pay my bills," says condo owner Jackie Schafer.

At issue is a new Florida law that says if 80 percent of owners agree to terminate the condo, the others can be forced to sell. The law adds if 10 percent oppose, they can block the sale. But the investors in this case, who own 80 percent of the units, say the bylaws of the condo override that.

The investors declined requests for an interview but issued a statement saying, "The steps we are taking at Madison Oaks will add value to the property, provide desirable rental homes for the market, and improve the neighborhood while adding to the county's tax base."

Schafer disagrees saying, "They don't care. To them, it's business. To us, it's everything."

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