Icon Brickell condo association settles class action suit alleging it charged illegal fees

Under the proposed agreement, anyone who bought or leased a unit since June 27, 2013 will receive up to $360.

Icon Brickell at 465 Brickell Avenue
Icon Brickell at 465 Brickell Avenue

UPDATED, April 30, 7:40 p.m.: Anyone who rented or bought a unit at Icon Brickell’s Tower 1 since June 27, 2013 could soon collect up to $360 from the building’s condo association.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey is scheduled to rule on a final settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit against the Icon Brickell Condominium No. 1 Association.

According to court documents, the association has agreed to make a one-time payment to former and existing tenants and owners who were charged illegal fees at the time of purchase or lease of a unit at Icon Brickell Tower 1. Built in 2008 by the Related Group, the building at 465 Brickell Avenue has 685 condos. The payment represents 60 percent of move-in and move-out fees that were charged to renters and owners in addition to a $100 application fee.

The Florida Condominium Act bars associations from charging more than $100 per person or per married couple in connection with the sale, lease or transfer of a condo unit. However, many associations allegedly flaunt the law. According to recent MLS listing data, more than 3,000 condos currently on the market require prospective buyers and tenants to pay application fees above $100.

For instance, 22 listings for condos available for sale at Brickell Flatiron show the application fee is $150. Nine listings at Icon Bay Miami also show a $150 application fee. Quadro Miami, a recently completed building near the Design District, is charging $475 in application fees, according to 35 listings.

However, after publication, a representative of Brickell Flatiron’s developer, CMC Group, said its application fee is $100 and that the MLS data for the 22 listings is inaccurate. The representative said the incorrect information was input by Realtors who are not employed by the association or CMC Group. Purchase and leasing application forms for Brickell Flatiron list a non-refundable fee of $100.

And after publication, in an April 30 letter, Icon Bay condo association attorney Marc Smiley said his client does not charge any fees to prospective buyers and tenants. “The association is currently in the process of contacting each and every listing agent who has erroneously included reference to a transfer fee being required by the association and demanding that they immediately correct their listings to reflect that no transfer fee is charged,” Smiley wrote. “Any reference to an application fee being charged by the association in the MLS listings is unilaterally and incorrectly being included by the listing agents without the association’s knowledge and/or consent.”

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Also, in a statement after publication, Aaron Resnick and Jordan Shaw, attorneys for plaintiff Brittany Wiggins, said class action lawsuits can deter this widespread practice by condo associations. “These illegal fees are a profit center for the condominium associations that charge them,” the statement said. “It appears that associations are attempting to fatten their coffers for as long as possible, with the hopes that they will avoid detection or stay in the black even after costly litigation.”

Shaw and Resnick said the Icon Brickell No. 1 association agreed to set aside a total of $762,500 to pay class members, attorney’s fees and a fee for Wiggins as the class representative. In addition, the association will stop charging fees over $100, they said.

Evelyn Greenstone Kammet, the lawyer for Icon Brickell No. 1, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Shaw and Resnick are also representing plaintiffs in class action lawsuits filed against condo associations for the SLS Lux, Quantum on the Bay, and the Plaza on Brickell.

Wiggins sued the Icon Brickell condo association in 2017, and her lawsuit was certified for class action status last year. According to her complaint, Wiggins was charged $500 in move-in and move-out fees in addition to a $100 application fee by the association. The entire $600 was non-refundable.

According to a website created to inform residents about the proposed agreement, Icon Brickell is willing to settle the case to avoid the costs of “lengthy and burdensome litigation.” Individuals who qualify as class action members are eligible to receive between $60 and $360 each, per the proposed settlement.

In September, Resnick and Shaw successfully negotiated a settlement in another class action lawsuit against The Plaza 851 Brickell Condominium Association, which was also accused of charging inflated fees. That association agreed to pay up to $300,000 in refunds.