An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published October 18, 2011


In my Op-Ed "DBPR CLAIMS: HIDDEN RECORDS ARE PUBLIC" dated September 17, 2011, I made it clear that the decision of the DBPR to remove the complaint history of community association managers from their website was just another step to remove consumer protection from the agenda in Florida 's community associations. 


But it has gotten even worse. The DBPR also removed from its website complaints that were found valid and triggered DBPR action -- like sending a Letter of Guidance to the violator. Knowing how difficult it is -- even if obvious violations by the CAM were proven -- to get the DBPR to take any action, even just a Letter of Guidance was considered a success for the complainant. But we found out that it is even worse: The DBPR obviously made records disappear -- not only from its website. See this example:


An owner requested the complaint history of CAM Keith Lamb -- the CAM just honored as "Manager of Excellence - Keith Lamb - The Great Outdoors Premier RV and Golf Resort" by the Florida Community Association Journal.


This is the e-mail that the owner received from the DBPR as response to his request sent by e-mail: "Please send me all records available in regard to all complaints ever filed against this individual" -- the individual being Hiram K  Lamb C.A.M. , License Number: CAM30710:

Sent: 10/11/2011 2:25:58 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Attachment:2009 -056230.pdf (4MB)
Subj: RE: Public Records Request Pursuant to Chapter 119.07(4), Florida Statutes

Dear XXX:

Our office has received your request for a copy of complaints filed against Hiram Lamb, CAM 30710. We have located complaint #2009-056230, which was closed in the Division of Regulation. Please find this case attached. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.


Kimberly Harrell
Division of Regulation
Department of Business and Professional Regulation


Clearly, according to this e-mail from the DBPR, only one complaint was ever filed against CAM Keith Lamb - one complaint with "no violation found" result. But in April 2011 -- when the website of the DBPR still showed the complete list of complaints filed against community association managers, the complaint history of Keith Lamb looked like this:


Number Class Incident Date Status Disposition Disposition Date Discipline Discipline Date
2010015704 Licensed Activity 04/13/2009 Closed Letter of Guidance Issued 10/25/2010    
2009036181 Licensed Activity 04/24/2009 Closed Letter of Guidance Issued 02/04/2010    
2009053261 Licensed Activity 07/31/2009 Closed No violation found 03/25/2010    
2009056230 Licensed Activity 10/21/2009 Closed No violation found 10/30/2009  

   What's wrong with this picture? 

Complaints disappearing into thin air?


Licensing is a good method to protect consumers, if the regulating agency is willing to take its job seriously. The licensing of community association managers is just a sham that gives homeowners and condo owners a false sense of security -- like the guards in a gated community. The consumers think they are protected, but in reality the license doesn't mean anything -- if the regulating agency fails to do its job and would rather protects the bad apples.


We always hear that professional regulation kills jobs. But failure to regulate can seriously backfire, if the public realizes that the regulation in place is just a farce to keep some consumers happy.


Just last week a HOA board in Central Florida decided it would rather hire a CPA for their financial needs, instead of hiring a management firm. The explanation given:  CPA licensing is taken seriously, while the licensing of community association managers is just a joke.


And if you look at the games played by the DBPR with trying to hide complaint files from public view, one can only agree! But let's face it: The DBPR actually protects the bad apples at the expense of the good and honest managers -- the ones who have nothing to hide.