When Rafael Mangual bought his condo at the Cambria at Polo South in Osceola County, he thought it was going to be a nice community -- a place he could call home for years to come.
“It was beautiful, the pool was clean at all times, they kept the place clean.” Mangual said.
Mangual paid $176,000 for his condo in 2007. Over the years the community made updates and upgrades. But condo owners said they have watched the property itself deteriorate. Many condos were foreclosed on or rented out.
“Now it’s a dump, a real dump,” Mangual said.
In February Mangual got a letter saying their condos were turning into apartments with Section 8 housing. They would be forced to sell their condo to the new owner. Instead of the $176,000 Mangual paid for, the owners appraised his condo at $66,000. That was a best and final offer.
“I’m out $110,000,” Mangual said.
That’s money Mangual still has to pay off, with nothing to show for it.
Legal Analyst Jaya Balani said what’s happened to Mangual is happening to people all around Florida.
“They were built at a time when the market was really high," Balani said. "The company who buys them out is either trying to go bankrupt, or they are trying to sell them to make their money back, for what they bought them for originally. So then they get the people together to vote on them and they make good money to convert them to apartments.”
The company told us they gave all the condo owners a good deal, and said Florida law that allows them to do this.
Changes made to Florida law in 2007 allows investors who buy 80 percent of a condo complex to force the remaining condo owners to sell.
As for Mangual, he went to three different attorneys. All three told him they couldn’t help.
"Under florida law they say this can be done, they can purchase the unit and chase us out of the place," Mangual said.
Mangual said the new owners told him he could remain there, but that he would have to pay $1,000 a month in rent.
That’s on top of the mortgage payment he still pays.