Opinion: Trouble under the rainbow

POSTED: 02/8/12 3:44 PM

The troubles at the Rainbow Beach Club are far from over, but it could very well happen that the lawsuits home owners at the property initiated against the project developer may come back to haunt them.
Yesterday home owners complained about actions by property-managers Mark and Johnny Erato; swimming pool furniture was taken away, the pools were drained, and electricity was cut to several elevators.
The home owners just earned last week in court the right to contract their own security and maintenance provider.
But the court case also brought to light that the tax inspectorate is now taking some interest in the activities of these home owners. The stories we hear suggest that some home owners rent out their properties for as much as $7,000 to $9,000 a week. Where that money goes is unclear, but the Eratos have suggested already in the past that the home owners are not paying any taxes over this income. This has piqued the interest of the tax inspectorate, and if we are well-informed, they will have a relatively easy job to determine how many paying guests pass through the rainbow property. That is because the management company keeps a record of who comes and goes.
Guests who are not owners are always asked whether they are paying guests or friends of the real owners. On at least one occasion, a guest arrived with a written instruction to say that he was not a paying guest.
That the home owners are now complaining about service-cuts surprises the Eratos. They point to articles in the deed of division and, last but not least, to an email the management company sent to the owners on December 14. At that moment, it was clear that there would be no definite solution for the new maintenance and security provider per January 1. In the email, the management company points out that it will render services for an extended period (until there is a solution, but that this is “reflective of the funds received.”
In other words, the home owners would have to pay their maintenance fees or face the consequences. The management company also announced that it would prioritize. The maintenance contract covers about 25 different topics – from parking and pool chemicals to upscale pool furniture and rodent control. The Eratos let it be known that they would give priority to urgent services like gate security, garbage removal and disposal, “and the required water, electric and shelter (human needs) that make these services possible.”
This is where we’re at right now: the Rainbow Beach Club Management Company no longer provides services for which the home owners are not paying. This there is no money coming in anymore becomes clear from an email Jim Taffeiren, chairman of the Home Owners Association for the West Building sent to all owners. In it, Taffeiren states that the process to transfer maintenance and security services to Solutions accounting and Management is underway. “If you have not already done so, you are advised not to pay your February 2012 maintenance and security fees to Rainbow Beach Club Management Ltd. at this time and until further notice.”
Remarkably, the home owners and the Eratos agree about one thing: this prolonged struggle between developer and owners is bad for St. Maarten’s reputation.

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