Private equity real estate investors have long been predicting a correction in the Miami condo market – and for just as long they've been wrong. Now, however, a backlash against South Beach condominiums is beginning to emerge, not in the form of plunging prices or loan defaults, but rather in the form of an activist labor union and an animated dog named Peaches.
Clean Condos, a project backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 11, is launching a campaign to reform the Miami condo market in order to benefit local property services workers. Among their demands is the maintenance of “high fiscal and ethical standards for operation” for property management companies, as well as worker training for hurricane emergencies.
As part of their efforts, they've also produced a 60-second flash-video found on the website www.screwthiscondo.org targeting The Continental Group, a Miami property manager. The short animated film follows the trials and tribulations of a Miami condo resident and her dog Peaches who move into a Continental-managed condominium – greedy landlords, fee increases, poor fixtures and lawsuits follow. Even Peaches gets thrown out on the street after she gains a few pounds and exceeds the maximum allowed weight for pets. The true entertainment value, however, comes from the soundtrack. Set, appropriately enough, to the beat of “Conga”, a 1986 hit by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (“Come on, shake your body, baby, do the conga”), the song's chorus is as follows: “Continental screwed me so screw this condo / Never thought a company could be so loco / Wish I could defend myself with taekwondo / Living in a Continental condo ain't so sweet.”
At the end of the video, viewers are urged to sign a petition supporting condo reform. Clean Condos claims that 3,000 Miami residents have done so thus far.