DIVISION: A DANGER TO CONDO OWNERS?
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published May 22, 2018
The actions of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes are getting more and more ridiculous and are actually a danger to the financial welfare of Florida’s condo owners.
After the Division fired the former Chief Arbitrator who plainly refused to deal with the wording of the new condo recall law enacted on July 1, 2017, they now hired an attorney named Caitlin R. Mawn as the new Chief Arbitrator. And she quickly showed that she has not the faintest idea about condo laws – or even recall procedures. Looking at her responses – and final ruling – in the case of JAMES SPINELLI v. ELDORADO PLAZA WEST ASSOCIATION, INC. (Case No. 2018-01-0735) one has to wonder if she won her law license on the county fair.
Her arguments are so twisted that it seems to me she has never in her life dealt with condo law (FS 718) before. She may have a background with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but as we all know that’s a totally different ball game. In short: Her ruling – and the arguments leading to her final ruling -- makes absolutely no sense.
Just remember: In the moment (until July 1) the recall provisions effective July 1, 2017 are still valid. And these provisions – in the pertinent part – read: “If the proposed recall is by an agreement in writing by a majority of all voting interests, the agreement in writing or a copy thereof shall be served on the association by certified mail or by personal service in the manner authorized by chapter 48 and the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The board of administration shall duly notice and hold a meeting of the board within 5 full business days after receipt of the agreement in writing. Such member or members shall be recalled effective immediately and shall turn over to the board within 10 full business days any and all records and property of the association in their possession.”
Take a look at the arbitration documents in the case of JAMES SPINELLI v. ELDORADO PLAZA WEST ASSOCIATION, INC.:
1. 02/28/2018 Petition For Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration
2. 03/07/2018 Order Requiring Filing
3. 03/15/2018 Supplemental Response To Order Requiring Filing
4. 04/11/2018 Final Order Of Dismissal
Looking at Mawn’s reasoning I wonder if she got the “message” regarding recall procedures. The steps to take are clearly spelled out – but obviously not clear enough for her. The recalled board clearly failed to hold the required meeting, thereby violating the Florida statutes – and are getting rewarded for this violation by a Chief Arbitrator who gets paid to make sure that Florida’s condo laws are being upheld.
It’s just amazing what certain Division arbitrators are “reading” between the lines. Don’t they understand that they are supposed to follow the wording of the laws enacted by the Florida legislature – and not “invent” their own rules and procedures?
What did Florida’s condo owners do to deserve such treatment by the employees of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.
Remember: The owners are paying the salary of these useless employees supposedly “regulating” Florida’s condominium associations.
Despite the fact that Florida’s condo owners are telling Florida’s legislators that the employees of the DIVISION are about as useless as a screen door on a submarine nothing has happened. The nonsense spewed out by the Division employees is getting worse by the day.
But our pleas are falling on deaf ears in Tallahassee. It seems to me that the only thing getting the attention of our elected officials is MONEY! Non-payment of the $4 into the Condo Trust Fund may be the only way to create the necessary changes to the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.
Why should owners pay $4 annually for an agency that endangers their financial welfare? Isn’t that a good question we should ask the candidates running for office in Tallahassee?