Courtesy of The Ledger
September 13, 2015
State Rep. John Cortes has announced plans to attempt
to overhaul state laws governing homeowner associations to clarify the
law and to improve enforcement.
Efforts by Cortes, D-Kissimmee, are partly an outgrowth of the
controversy involving disputes between some Poinciana residents and the
Association of Poniciana Villages, the sprawling community's homeowners
association and partly in response to other complaints he has received
from members of other HOAs.
The details of his proposal are not available yet because proposed
legislation is still being drafted, according to an aide.
Cortes said in a statement last week that the legislation would "seek to
end the statutory inefficiencies relating to homeowner association
oversight by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation."
When Poinciana residents have raised concerns with Polk County
officials, Polk County Commissioner Todd Dantzler informed them recently
in an email that they should direct their concerns to the Department of
Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Condominiums,
Timeshares and Mobile Homes.
But in response to a recent inquiry by APV board member Peter Jolly, he
was informed in an email from an investigator in that division that
"this division does not have jurisdiction over HOA issues except issues
involving election and recall which can be addressed by our Arbitration
section. The Compliance section does not have jurisdiction to
investigate violations of Chapter 720 or failure to follow your
governing documents. The courts system can address HOA issues at this
Cortes said he wants to provide a way to deal with disputes without
forcing residents to file lawsuits, which is neither practical nor
affordable in many cases.
The tensions in Poinciana ended up in court recently when the APV sued
three board members in connection with the transfer of association funds
and the removal of equipment without the approval of the rest of the
board in a dispute over the association's finances.
A judge ordered that the money and equipment be returned and any funds
that were spent be properly accounted for.
That incident has been used to try to gain support for a proposal to
hold a referendum to decide wither Poinciana should become a city.
Cortes, who serves as liaison to Poinciana for the Osceola County
legislative delegation, has also asked his colleagues to make an
informed decision on the issue. Poinciana lies between Haines City and
Kissimmee and is partly in Osceola County and partly in Polk County.
Approval of a referendum requires legislation and that legislation will
not proceed without the support of the Polk and Osceola legislative
Incorporation supporters recently submitted an updated feasibility study
as required by state law for review by state officials.
The majority of local legislators rejected previous requests for a
referendum, concluding supporters had not provided enough evidence to
justify the proposal's financial feasibility or its support within the
Incorporation advocates say they plan to renew their requests when the
delegations hold their pre-session meetings later this year.