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

Published April 7, 2015


To be really honest: The Florida legislators are doing anything but trying to enact bills that will help their constituents. They fight over nonsense, create bills that make very little sense and just fill up the book of Florida laws that create nothing but more confusion and law suits.


This year again they failed to even discuss the bills that would finally create a regulatory agency to protect 2.65 million families owning property in Florida ’s mandatory homeowners’ associations (according to the latest statistics of the DBPR) against abuses and serious financial mismanagement.


Over the years the Florida legislature added provisions over provisions to FS 720 (HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATIONS) but failed to create any tools that would make it relatively easy to enforce these rules they created.


Look at the (very good) provisions created by the HOA REFORM BILL H 7119 in 2013:

This bill required

·         all mandatory homeowners in the State of Florida to register with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. I know of many board members who plainly refuse to do so, because nothing “happens” if they don’t follow the law.

·         every association to maintain insurance or a fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The reasoning of boards failing to follow the law: Why should we spend money as long as nobody forces us to follow the law?

·         Developers to follow more detailed turn-over requirements. The answer of many developers: Why should we follow the new laws? The owners are not organized enough and don’t have the money to sue us to enforce these laws.


Just a few examples how little all these new laws really impact these homeowners’ associations.


This year, State Representative Halsey Beshears [Distr. 7 (R)], the chairman of the House Business & Professions Subcommittee, answered my question why he didn’t add our HOA Reform Bill H 1263 to the committee agenda saying that Representative Mike LaRosa didn’t have the bill ready for hearing (???) and that there was much opposition to the bill. Excuse me? Sure, there will always be much opposition to such a bill – coming from so-called HOA service-providers --  because owners protected by nearly unenforceable laws are much easier to fleece -- and dictatorial board members who are afraid that a regulatory agency will end their reign of terror and financial mismanagement.


Let’s play the numbers’ game: A few thousand loud-mouthed service-providers oppose a bill that would help more than 2.65 million families here in Florida . How about it? Shouldn’t honest legislators ignore the campaign funds from these service-providers and enact bills that would help millions of their constituents?


Instead legislators waste their time with pushing bills that should not have been filed in the first place – because these bills will have very little impact and just add to the confusion of all people involved.


·         H 1211/S 870 deals with voting procedures and electronic voting in community associations. In all honesty, the legislators should first create reasonable rules in regards to elections. FS 720 leaves it to the ideas of bylaws (meaning the interpretation of sitting board members) on how elections in HOAs are conducted. Election fraud runs rampant in Florida ’s HOAs. Now legislators are willing to open more doors for election fraud – and making elections more expensive without creating the necessary safeguards to prevent wide-spread election fraud.

·         H 611/S 736 deals with the cost of estoppel letters. What a joke! An estoppel letter should not cost more than $ 100. Florida statutes require associations to maintain a “current account and a periodic statement of the account for each member.” This account should tell anybody with just one look how much this unit/parcel actually owes. The form letter creating the formal estoppel letter should be kept as a template in the computer. With other words, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to create such a letter. Wouldn’t that mean that $100 is already overpaying for such a letter? Any Treasurer, CAM or Accountant who isn’t keeping these accounts up-to-date should rather get fired than being allowed to charge extra for his/her incompetence.


These are just some examples how Florida’s legislators are wasting their precious 60 days of the annual legislative session, instead of working on issues that would create much needed protection against abuses and financial mischief for Florida home and condo owners.