Contact Us

Surfside Mayor Under Fire For Long-Overdue Repairs At His Own Multifamily Building

The mayor of Surfside, Florida, is facing criticism over problems at a multifamily building he owns in Miami Beach. Last week, Charles Burkett, through his Burkett Cos., gave tenants 45 days to move so he could attend to repairs that tenants say have been needed for years.

Tenants at The Lois Apartments have complained about leaks, a broken elevator and crumbling balconies. Photos showed balconies with missing railings and tied up with rope. They say their fears were ignored until residents went public with complaints on Facebook and contacted media outlets. Still, the 45-day lease termination notice, sent Thursday, is catching them by surprise, and some say it’s too short a time to find alternate housing in a heated market.

Charles Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, is under fire over long-needed repairs to an apartment building he owns.

Surfside was the center of international attention after a condominium building, Champlain Towers South, collapsed in June, killing 97.

The Miami Beach Building Department gave The Lois Apartments, located at 2001 Bay Drive, an unsafe structures violation after a tree fell and damaged four of its balconies during Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Miami Herald reported. The matter went to a special magistrate in 2019, according to TV station WSVN.

The property was given a final notice on Aug. 19, alleging that balconies couldn't support loads. Burkett blamed stalled repairs on the city of Miami Beach for losing drawings, resulting in permit delays. However, a city spokesperson told the Herald “they have a permit revision for the balconies that was applied for in April, but no plans have been submitted for review as of this email.”

One tenant said the sudden requirement to move out was an overreaction. Burkett said that good tenants would be welcomed back once repairs are completed, but one single mom expressed fears the rent would be jacked up. Rents in the Miami metro have risen 20% in a year.

“A couple of months ago, in the middle of the pandemic, they raised our rent," tenant Leo Cattani told WSVN. "They raised it like a hundred bucks. I just feel in the aftermath of the recent building collapse on Collins, I just feel like he should … think a little bit more about this building.”

The Lois is just one of 11 rental properties in the Burkett Cos. portfolio, according to its website. Burkett in the 1980s joined a group of investors undertaking historic renovations, resulting in the Art Deco District in South Beach. He has since bought and renovated more than 20 projects in six states.