Judge rules Surfside condo owners off the hook for $800K tax bill

Judge ordered the taxes be paid out of the extra funds from the $120M sale

Champlain Towers South site (Getty Images)
Champlain Towers South site (Getty Images)

UPDATED, Aug. 8, 6:30 p.m.: Unit owners of the collapsed Surfside condo are no longer on the hook for their 2022 property tax bills.

Judge Michael Hanzman, who has been overseeing the collapse litigation, ordered that the unit owners’ property tax bill this year be paid out of the proceeds from the $120 million sale of the property in July.

The 136 owners of the collapsed Champlain Towers South received their tax bills for the first half of the year, which frustrated some who felt they were shortchanged by their share of the more than $1 billion settlement in the class action case, the Miami Herald reported.

After news emerged that they would each be on the hook for thousands of dollars in payments, Hanzman ordered that the receiver use leftover funds from the sale to pay the bill. The owners will still receive their $96 million payout.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and lawmakers waived the tax bills last year following the tragedy in Surfside, which killed 98 people when the oceanfront building collapsed in June 2021.

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The Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s office assessed the vacant 1.8-acre site at 8777 Collins Avenue, which was sold to Dubai developer Damac Properties, at $41.3 million. The $787,000 bill averages out to $5,800 per unit, but each owner’s share varies based on their unit’s square footage.

Owners were only responsible for their property taxes from January to July. Damac will be responsible for the property taxes for the remainder of the year.

State law requires the county to assess properties and collect taxes, which means it would be up to the state to waive property taxes for any property.

Oren Cytrynbaum, whose family owned units in the building, told the Herald that the tax bill for the site “doesn’t sit well with owners, who are also victims.”

“Not only did we receive a reduced settlement amount and the lowest settlement amount, and now you’re coming after us to pay property taxes, too?” Cytrynbaum said.

– Katherine Kallergis