Legal loophole threatens condo owners

A legal loophole is threatening condo owners across the state. Now, Bay Area legislator Carl Zimmermann is asking the governor to step in.
"I don't even want to sell. That's my home, and they're stealing it from me," Stephanie Krasowski said.
Krasowski bought a condo at Madison Oaks in Palm Harbor in 2007. At the time, it seemed like a smart investment, but now she is fighting investors and a state law that could force her out.
She said investors have bought more than 200 units and now want to convert the condos to apartments. She said she is being offered $82,000 for her unit, but still owes $120,000 on her mortgage.
What's more frustrating is that she may not have a choice thanks to a legal loophole.
"When I first tell people about this, they just don't believe that this could be true," State Rep. Carl Zimmermann said.
Zimmermann said as it stands right now, if 80 percent of owners want to convert and no more than 10 percent are opposed, then even those who want to stay must go.
"Now that real-estate has been on the rise, these investors have seen an opportunity to go in, buy up all the unsold units -- they buy them in bulk -- or they buy them with a number of different entities and then they merge together once they purchase them," said Zimmermann.
At his district office Wednesday, other condo owners with stories very similar to Krasowski's voiced their concerns, all fighting a process they fear will leave them financial devastated.
"I put down a very large down payment at a very young age that I'm not able to get back, and I'll be left in deficiency of my loan. I'll have to take a short sale. I'll have to pay taxes on that. I'll have financial debt. I won't be able to buy a home for the next two years, and I don't even want to leave," Krasowski said.
Zimmermann said he has sent a letter to the governor asking him to step in and help stop anymore conversions until the legality of this can be discussed in the next legislative session.
But Krasowski says she could lose her fight in September.


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