Courtesy of The Miami Herald
the Miami Herald Editorial Board
Published July 11, 2017
At last, the state has taken an important step to
penalize the fraud and abuses that have plagued many condominiums in
Miami-Dade and Broward — and the rest of Florida.
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law needed condo law reforms,
bringing their dealings into the light.
From now on, condo associations that have 150 or more units are required to
issue financial reports and make them available on a website with a shared
The enhanced law will also limit to eight years terms served on condo
governing boards, and it broadens and clarifies the definition of conflicts
This key addition will help prevent nepotism, such as the granting of
maintenance contracts and services to relatives of board members or the
Under the new law, fraud in the election of condo association directors,
falsification of signatures on election ballots, the manipulation of condo
records, and the theft or disappearance of ballots will be considered
serious violations that could be punished with prison terms — giving the law
some sharp and teeth.
The Miami-Dade delegation introduced the bill in Tallahassee earlier this
These lawmakers are to be commended for fighting tooth and nail to get it to
become law. They celebrated their victory with a handful of condo dwellers
from Miami-Dade who worked to get the bill passed and traveled to the state
capital for the final vote.
The bill came out of an investigative series on condo abuses by el Nuevo
Herald and Univision 23.
The series, “Condo Nightmares,” revealed numerous instances of condo board
election fraud, falsified signatures, conflicts of interest, possible
misappropriation of funds, and other irregularities, all uncovered by
reporters Brenda Medina and Enrique Flor of el Nuevo and Erika Castillo of
“This is a very important law for Miami-Dade because it’s something that
condo owners have been waiting for for nearly a decade,” Hialeah Republican
Sen. René Garcia, who co-sponsored the bill with Miami Democrat José Javier
Rodríguez, told the Herald.
The abuses uncovered by the series led to a scathing February report by a
Miami-Dade grand jury that echoed the series’ findings and recommended
significant changes and a beefing up to Chapter 718 of the state statutes,
which regulates condos, as well as the state agency that is supposed to
monitor and punish violations, the Department of Business and Professional
The bill faced a hard road. The original legislation, which was stricter on
abusers, was opposed by attorneys from condominium associations and also the
Florida Bar, claiming it did not want new crimes to be created. Miami-Dade
lawmakers made several amendments to the bill and got it done.
Now, the new law clarifies the crime committed and the punishment to be
Police departments and state prosecutors had said they have not investigated
complaints of electoral fraud in condominium associations because the law
did not spell out criminal punishments and they could do little to charge
For the millions of Floridians who live in condos — and for those who are
being held hostage by a homeowners association gone rogue — there is now
stronger legal recourse.