Condo Confidential / Ms. Management

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Courtesy of The Miami Herald
June 12, 2005



condoconf@aol.com

In the three months since Condo Confidential started we've covered a lot of ground, from the absurd -- such as marketing some of the 48,000 condos planned, under construction or proposed in Miami-Dade County to high-end buyers with incentives like ''peeping'' potential or zero-gravity rumpus rooms -- to the strictly practical, like how to check up on your property manager's qualifications.

Some of you have asked for names and numbers from past columns, so here is a roundup of the key issues discussed and contacts provided over the past few months, in fridge-magnet-ready format:

 Condo Man: State Rep. Julio Robaina (District 117) has emerged as a leading voice for condo owners in Tallahassee. Last year, Robaina helped pass a law that created a condo ombudsman and the Condominium Advisory Council. Next session he'll be focusing on mandatory audits; background checks and financial disclosures for board members; and board eligibility for full-time residents only.

You can reach Rep. Robaina at: julio.robaina@myfloridahouse.gov.

 Condo Ombudsman: Virgil Rizzo is the state's first ombudsman. A referee of sorts, he has been granted authority by the governor to work out of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Tallahassee on your behalf. If you are experiencing mismanagement issues you can reach him at 850-922-7671 or virgil.rizzo@dbpr.state.fl.us.

 Cyber Citizens For Justice: This statewide group was co-founded by St. Augustine activist Jan Bergemann, who is always eager to help condo or homeowner ''underdogs.'' The group serves as a clearinghouse of information, and serves up a wide range of topics at its website, www.ccfj.net, including the first Condo Ombudsman's quarterly report (from April 2005), and the April 2005 OPPAGA report of the State Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability.

 DBPR: The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation regulates condominium and homeowner associations. There are about 1,000 registered Community Association Managers in Miami-Dade. You can find out if your property manager is registered by going to www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 850-487-1395.

 Elevators: Don't be dragged down by stuck elevators. Malfunctioning elevators should not be a fact of daily life. They could be dangerous and also a sign that your condo's maintenance is lagging. Miami-Dade's chief elevator inspector, Mike Chavez, can be reached at 305-375-1577. If you live in Miami, Cecy Darley, assistant to Hector Lima, director of the city's Building Department, is reachable at 305-416-1105. The contact in Miami Beach is John Antona at 305-673-7000.

 In Sickness and Health: You are responsible for your mortgage and common charges, even if a sudden illness leaves you in a vegetative state. Make sure your real estate asset is protected should you be incapacitated by doing some estate planning. Pre-Need Guardian Forms and Power of Attorney forms are available for free at www.floridabar.org (click on Member Services).

 Checking Up On Contractors: The county's Building Code Compliance Department can tell you if a contractor holds a license, the status of that license, if there are complaints against the contractor, if the contractor holds insurance and more. The department also produces several brochures for consumers, such as How to Hire a Licensed Contractor. Call 305-375-2901 or visit www.miamidade.gov/buildingcode.

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