TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the University Village retirement community ownership continues its life and death struggle with the state, clients and customers are collateral damage.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation contends the new owners of the retirement community are cash-strapped and wants them gone. Westport Holdings Tampa, the owners, argue the state put a hold on their money, tying up millions. People living there or even thinking about it are paying a price.
Harold and Sandra Carson decided in October 2014 it was time they move to the continuing care retirement community.“University Village had a lot of good programs,” 86-year-old Harold Carson said. The facility offers rides to appointments, meals, apartments, and continuing care with assisted living and a skilled nursing center. So the Carsons paid a $1,500 down payment. Two months later, his life changed dramatically. Sandra Carson stopped eating and was hospitalized. The news was not good.“Turned out the dementia was causing the not eating,” Harold explained. Sandra, 82, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She became unable to walk or stand. Harold decided to stay put. His condo had room for a live-in caregiver. He asked for his “fully refundable” deposit. He claims he’s waited a year, so he contacted 8 On Your Side.
In June, Harold received an email from the director of accounting at University Village. It stated: “There will be issue of your refund today.”
The Office of Insurance Regulation says the new owners of the retirement community skirted the law by not going through a required approval process. OIR contends University Village ownership has failed to pay more than $4 million in refunds owed to residents, their estates and prospective residents.
We reached out to John Bartle, one of the principals in the takeover of University Village. He said he would look into Harold’s situation.
Within minutes, Bartle forwarded an email to 8 On Your Side that he received from accounting. It stated: “I have it cut…sending out today.”
“I’ll believe it when i see it,” Harold Carson countered.