Short Lesson on Condominium and HOA Living in Florida

Okay folks, here is a short lesson on Condominium and HOA Living in Florida:

This week's lesson:  Let's start with the Department where you go to file a complaint.
Their Mission Statement:

"The mission of the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes is to
assist our customers by educating them about their rights and responsibilities as provided in
the regulatory acts we administer; and to respond timely and appropriately to our customers
thereby providing enhanced public protection, quality service, and increased customer satisfaction."

Anyone care to guess what the DBPR means by "enhanced public protection" and
"customer satisfaction"?

Enhanced public protection = We have an 800 number you can call, but if you are in any
serious kind of trouble, don't call us!  We can't interpret your Condo/HOA documents, we
can't represent you legally on any matter, we can't even enforce the laws, because it would be
a conflict of interest to "our customers."

Customer Satisfaction = Keep the statistics low so no one figures out that there is a
monstrous problem in Condos/HOAs.  Keep the complainants going around in circles
until they sell their unit and stop filing complaints.

Here are some more DBPR words for you to learn....

Customer = Someone other than those unlucky few (millions) who live in a condominium or
HOA and comply with Section 718.501(2)(a), Florida Statutes and pay to the division an annual
fee in the amount of $4.00 for each residential unit. 

Breach of Fiduciary Duty = If you do it, everyone knows you did it.  But it's a conflict of interest
to satisfy any customers by actually finding anyone guilty of it and penalizing them.

Task Force = A group of our finest customer satisfaction experts.  They're highly trained in
listening to thousands of complaints from residents all over the state and then doing absolutely
nothing about it.

Common Funds = If you're a board member, the maximum amount of money that will fit in your
pocket and you end up keeping after taxes.  (Refer to Breach of Fiduciary Duty, read it, study it,
and then ignore it.  Don't get scared, you get to keep the money)

Official Records = Any bit of incriminating evidence still left after going through the paper
shredder.  Law Enforcement will not ever need to see any of it, so it makes really good sense to
get rid of it.  It increases customer satisfaction.  No proof that some board member took the
money = No Complaints = Higher Customer Satisfaction.

Education = Lessons in enforcement and creating lawsuits. Paid for at an annual rate of
$500,000 by the condo owners. The DBPR chose to hand this "task" to the Community
Association Institute, a trade organization of lawyers and service providers, known to fight any
consumer-friendly bills in Tallahassee. This money will definitely help the CAI to gain more
influence in Tallahassee to defeat homeowners' initiatives!

Enforcement = Bother the hell out of the customers by sending them letters with pretty "Right
Here, Right Now!" logos and wait until the customer laughs at it, takes it to court or moves to

Violation Letter = This is divided into three parts.  Informational Letter, Written Warning, and
we don't know yet what to call the third, so we'll just call it Administrative Action.

Informational Letter = Welcome Letter.  Usually accompanied with brochures of Florida's
Capitol and pictures of bull droppings.

Written Warning = Welcome Letter, brochures of Florida's Capitol, lots and lots of pictures of
bull droppings and complimentary references to "The Yellow Book," closely resembling but not
to be confused with the Yellow Pages.

Administrative Action = Scare the hell out of people thinking of making complaints and ruining
the customer satisfaction statistics by threatening the complainants with fines of up to $5,000
per violation.

Fines = Toll free calls to 1-800-226-9101 are billed at a rate equivalent to $18 for each serious
violation mentioned.  But at no rate will the total of any one phone call exceed $5,000 billable to
caller and all his/her neighbors. There is no limit to the amount of violations, but in order to keep
costs down and keep the customer satisfaction statistics high, only one serious violation per
customer is recommended.

Community Association Manager = One of over 8,500 currently licensed magicians in
Florida who can make millions of dollars disappear and not ever be held accountable for it. It's
simple.  The person gets an attorney friend and makes him the registered agent for all the
associations they entertain. When a problem occurs, the CAM blames the Agent, the Agent
blames the board, the board blames the unit owners, the unit owners fork up the bill.

Registered Agent = The person who receives all the complaints and replies to them.  This
person usually bills the association at a rate of over $300 per violation to provide answers.
Should the response cause the association to incur a fine, this person's rates just doubled.

Yellow Book = A list of telephone numbers of the wealthiest and most powerful legislators and
attorneys in Florida.  "718" and "720" of the Florida Statutes, refer to their hourly rates.  The
higher the number, the higher the hourly rate.  The formula is really complicated and only a
skilled DBPR employee can tell you how it works.  Here is an example, Section 718.501
violations are billed at about $510 per hour, while 718.1255 are billed at $1255.

Accountability = (Pronounced, A-Cow-in-Tabul-eats-tea) Who knows what this one means! 
We couldn't find it in the Yellow Book, somebody must have torn the page out.

Author's Note: Not all board members, volunteers, condominium associations, home owner associations, attorneys, registered agents, legislators, community association manager and employees of the DBPR use the above dictionary. Many of them want to provide real enhanced customer protection, the kind where homeowners are protected from losing their homes for
owing four cents to their association, the kind where you protect homeowners from abusive boards by going after the board members who break the law. Keep in mind the torture and
cruelty those customers go through only to find out three years later and getting deep into the system that "There is nowhere else to go!" The problem is ... Florida has been using the same dictionary and Yellow Book for over fifteen years and nobody has the guts to put the above definitions in the Florida Statutes. Why? Who's running the show? Please bring us peace,
please do something about this huge problem. Just do your job and put one of the violators in

Campaign to Bring Peace to Florida's Residents Living in Deed Restricted Homes and Condominiums