Courtesy of The Miami Herald
Published April 28, 2017
A bill to reform Florida condo law is in its final phase
in Tallahassee after it was unanimously approved by the Senate’s Rules
Committee on Tuesday.
The bill is scheduled
for a vote on Thursday in the House and is expected to go to
the full Senate next week.
However, a last-minute change brought protests from
condominium owners and their advocates, who for months have
been pushing for approval of the reforms.
Through amendments filed this week and last week, lawmakers
removed language that could penalize, as a misdemeanor
charge, association board members who “knowingly and
repeatedly” refuse to provide documents to which the owners
Owners and activists who defend condominium owners said that
language was the most important part of the proposed
reforms. But the issue of potential criminal charges was
controversial in Tallahassee, where lobbyists and lawyers —
including a representative of the Florida Bar — strongly
objected to that part of the bill.
Hundreds of Miami-Dade condo owners protest in Doral
in 2016 to demand changes in Florida condo law.
The reforms still include felony charges for those who
alter, manipulate or remove records of associations for the purpose of
committing fraud. In addition, the reforms still include criminal charges
for actions related to electoral fraud, such as falsification of signatures
on ballot papers.
But some Florida condo owners said they feel cheated.
“We’re back where we started,” said Maryin Vargas, a Miami condo owner and
leader of the Reform Florida group. “Special interests are the only ones who
have a voice in Florida. The lawyers know that without records, owners can’t
fight their cases and find out if a crime is being committed in their
The bill came one year after el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 published
Condo Nightmares (Condos de Pesadilla), a series of investigative stories on
condo abuses in South Florida, like electoral fraud, falsification of
signatures, conflicts of interest, embezzlement and cases of fraudulent