The Weekly Dirt: Troubled HOA faces uncertain future

Judge weighs transition of power at the Hammocks

Weekly Dirt: Future Leadership Uncertain at The Hammocks

A photo illustration of attorney David Gersten along with an aerial view of the Hammocks homeowners association between Southwest 120th and 88th streets through Southwest 147th and 162nd avenues in Miami-Dade County (Getty, The Hammocks, The Circuit Court for the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida)

More than one year later, drama at the Hammocks is still unfolding. 

First, a quick recap: The Hammocks is home to one of Florida’s largest homeowners associations and has 18,000 residents living in single-family homes and condominiums. 

In November 2022, five people, including four ex-HOA board members, were arrested on charges that they misappropriated association funds. The receiver appointed by the court to temporarily take over the association has found that at least $4 million has been misappropriated, a number that ballooned from initial allegations that pegged the fraud at $2 million.

The HOA is now trying to figure out what its future leadership looks like. Last week Judge Beatrice Butchko considered a transition plan put forward by David Gersten, the HOA’s receiver. The plan would keep Gersten on as receiver to resolve lawsuits and insurance claims that he initiated on the HOA’s behalf. He would also serve as the association’s monitor from June through at least the end of the year. 

Separately, the judge signed off on Gersten monitoring future elections.

Some homeowners want Gersten out, citing that the receiver and his team’s services have already cost the HOA $3.2 million. Gersten and Butchko, however, are leery about granting the HOA independence too quickly. 

“The way I view this association is akin to an entity with a disease. A horrible, horrible disease. It had a cancer,” Butchko said during a hearing. “And it’s in remission. And it can have a relapse.”

Reporter Lidia Dinkova has been following the HOA’s saga since the arrests in November 2022. This week she put together a comprehensive guide to where various issues stand in the criminal cases, the receivership, insurance costs and much more. Definitely check it out.

The allegations at the Hammocks underscore the gaps in oversight of HOAs throughout the state. Lawmakers are considering several bills (one of which passed in the House on Thursday) to ramp up enforcement and hold these bodies accountable. Still, Dinkova says that lack of data around fraud and other issues plaguing HOAs makes it difficult to gauge how widespread these problems are. 

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A quick note: You may have noticed that a different Kathryn wrote this week’s newsletter. I’m just filling in for Katherine Kallergis this week and next.  

What we’re thinking about: How important are low income housing tax credits in funding affordable housing in South Florida? What do you think of the changes to the program being contemplated by Congress? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: Designer ball pythons, genetically mutated to feature in some cases outlandish skin features, are called “morphs,” according to the New Yorker

Closing Time 

Residential: Venture capitalist Eric Kenneth Seiff paid $24 million for a ninth floor condo unit at the Surf Club Four Seasons at 9001 Collins Avenue in Surfside. The unit was owned by the trust for the late Marguerite DeLany Hark, a descendent of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

Commercial: A joint venture between Kayne Anderson and Remedy Medical Properties paid Miami-based Flagler Healthcare Investments $20.5 million for two medical office buildings at 10275 and 10383 Hagen Ranch Road in Boynton Beach. They also took over two ground leases with Welltower, which owns the land beneath the buildings.  — Adam Farence

New to the market: A 19,666-square-foot mansion at 1460 South Ocean Boulevard in Manalapan hit the market this week with an asking price of $74.9 million. The home, which is under construction, has 170 feet of beach frontage and features six bedrooms and eight bathrooms, with three half-bathrooms. Premier Properties’ Carmen D’ Angelo Jr. and Angelo Liguori have the listing.

Elsewhere in Florida 

  • The state legislature last week approved a measure that bans social media with “addictive” features, such as endless scrolling and push notifications, for kids younger than 16 years old, the Associated Press reports. It is not clear if changes to the bill will satisfy Gov. Ron DeSantis, who raised concerns about the measure surviving legal challenges.
  • Contradicting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a letter granting parents permission to send unvaccinated children to school amid a measles outbreak, CBS News reports. Ladapo wrote that he “is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.” As of last week, Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston had confirmed seven cases.
  • Miami signed off on a hiring freeze as part of its efforts to cut $25 million from this year’s budget, the Miami Herald reports. The city will leave vacant positions open until at least October, which will save an estimated $11 million.