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Palm Cove condo owners forced to sell, face legal battle to stay in their homes

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Some Manatee County condo owners are now facing eviction, as an investment group tries to turn their units into apartments.

The Harvey family is one of about 30 condo owners now at the center of a legal battle to stay in their units.

"It makes me sick," Robin Harvey said. "I can't believe I would ever be on television about somebody being able to take our homes without a government issue."

According to condo association documents, The Riley Family Trust -- a Minnesota-based company belonging to Siesta Key residents James and Johnathan Riley -- purchased a lump some of units in the Palm Coves Community.

Now, the stakeholders have begun the process of doing away with the condo association and converting the units into apartments -- a process that means current homeowners have no choice but to sell.

"If someone came in and paid $150,000 for their units, in this case they face a situation where all they get for it is $100,000," said attorney Matt Taylor. "And that $50,000 that they don't get, they could still be responsible for."

Taylor explained that the condo termination plan has nothing to do with an individual's mortgage so the homeowner is still on the hook for any shortages in the sale price.

But it isn't just the sale price that's causing concern, because many of those impacted had no intention of selling in the first place.

"Now they're being told they have to sell their homes at a loss and move out in 90 days," said Attorney Kevin Hennessy. "This situation, I'm sure, to the developer... it's just a business deal. He looks as it as a smart investment, but to my clients, this is their home, their lives."

Hennessy and Taylor are both challenging the legalities of the termination. No representatives from The Riley Family Trust nor their attorney were available for comment. However, they have gone on record in condo association meetings as saying they're using a 2006 version of a Florida Statute Condo Law as part of the basis of their actions.

In the meantime, residents like the Harveys say they are heartbroken.