No Vacancy

Keila Lopez has three adorable mixed-race kids. Unfortunately, the Tropical Resort Condo Association has decided they just don't gel with the pink pastel walls and stubby palms of their little slice of heaven up on Bay Drive.

Lopez, a Puerto Rican Homeland Security agent, arrived at her second viewing of the condo she intended on renting Saturday morning. While she filled out some paperwork, her children (black) and "partner" (also black) checked out the pool. Condo owners wandered out and stared.

There would be no problem, she'd been told. But her broker's demeanor changed following his introduction to the Lopez family. "All of a sudden, it seemed there might need to be an interview," Lopez said. The following Monday, three hours after she put in her application, she was denied without explanation.

"That's never happened before," said Nate Miller, her broker, who is convinced that this is an instance of discrimination. "If they have a legitimate reason for denying her application, they aren't telling me or anyone else," he said.

The condo's management company is claiming that there are open permits on the unit. "It can't be rented to anyone," said Jason Schoenholtz of Regatta Real Estate, who is fielding all calls for the Condo Association.

But Lopez checked it out with the city. The only open permit on the unit is for A/C installation. It's not prohibitive of occupancy. "And why would they advertise a condo for rent and then decide it can't be occupied?" she wondered.

"I'm not gonna take this lying down," she said. Lopez intends to file housing discrimination complaints with the City of Miami Beach, with Dade County and the local office of Housing and Urban Development. -Calvin Godfrey


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