Hardy Fuller could not believe his bad luck.
He felt he had already been stiffed by the developers who sold him a crumbling unit in a Little Havana condo complex.
Expecting an evacuation order from the city of Miami after a floor collapsed in a neighboring unit, Fuller and his wife moved to a nearby apartment building two weeks ago.
It was infested with cockroaches.
That was when he discovered who his new landlord was: one of the two developers who had sold him his now unlivable condo.
These people are getting rich off other peoples misery, said Fuller, who continues to pay the mortgage for his one-bedroom, $44,000 condo which he purchased in 2010 in the now-condemned Havana Palms complex at 960 SW Second St.
City officials have given residents until Monday to evacuate the entire complex because of the unsafe floor conditions. Close to 20 Havana Palms condo owners and a dozen renters are impacted.
So far no one has taken responsibility for the structural problems at the 32-unit complex built in 1946. It was converted from apartments to condos in 2006.
Anibal Duarte-Viera and Gabriel de la Campa were partners in the development company, Montara Land V LLC, which sold 19 units between 2006 and 2011 for prices ranging between $44,000 and $184,000. The development company dissolved in 2011 after the last units were sold to an investor after the real estate bubble burst.
It is unclear whether the subfloors of the buildings were rotting at the time Montara sold the properties, although an architect who examined the properties during the conversion process estimated the buildings structure had only five years of useful life remaining.
The developers installed heavy tiles over a thick coat of cement, and that went over wood floors. The work was done without proper permits or inspections.
In interviews with El Nuevo Herald, Duarte-Viera has said that he never would have bought the property from another real estate investor had he known of the damage. De la Campa has not responded to multiple calls and emails over the past several weeks.
Yet, after a limited review of rental properties tied to him, Duarte-Viera appears to be no stranger to aging, crumbling buildings.
El Nuevo Herald visited about 10 Little Havana apartment buildings that belong to companies in which Duarte-Viera is the owner or a partner. About half were in good condition, and workers were tearing out the floors at one building.
When there is a problem in the apartment, they come and fix it, said Edwin Masso, who lives at a building on SW Ninth 9th Street.
But a handful of the others showed evidence of neglect: warped floors, cracks on the ceilings and walls, water damage in the bathrooms and kitchens.
Gladys Mercado said that she pays $800 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, where a corner of the bathroom ceiling is falling through because of water damage. About a month ago, she said, a backyard tree fell, knocking down several electrical cables that were left exposed on the roof. Soon after, a neighborhood cat died on the roof. Mercado thinks it was electrocuted.
She said that she has been complaining to the property manager for weeks about the danger.
I was afraid one of the other cats would get tangled up in the cables and cause a short circuit or a fire, said Mercado, who is disabled after suffering a stroke. I didnt let my son go out because I feared he was going to get shocked by those wires.