House Member Emily Slosberg recently co-sponsored House Bill 123
called the "Stand Up for Seniors Act“ which only applies to 55
and over condominium and homeowners' associations. The bill
brings the current “bullying” issues that school children deal
with it into your 55 and over condominiums and HOAs.
The bill defines "Bullying" as intimidation or harassment that
causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical
safety or property and may consist of physical actions including
It then defines "Cyberbullying" as bullying through the use of
technology or any electronic communication.
It defines "Harassment" as any racist, threatening, insulting,
or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or
written, verbal, or physical conduct that has the effect of
substantially interfering with or disrupting a member's
opportunities, peaceful enjoyment of his or her home or the
association common areas, or association benefits.
This new proposed law would require Associations to adopt, and
review at least every 3 years, a policy prohibiting bullying and
harassment. The policy shall ensure association members do not
subject others to fear or intimidation. The policy shall afford
all members the same protections.
(h) If the association receives a report of bullying, the
association would be required to investigate. After the
association completes its investigation, it would be required to
submit its findings to the local ombudsman who shall, upon a
finding of a violation or a finding that a member has wrongfully
and intentionally accused another of an act of bullying or
1. Provide a written warning to the member upon a finding of a
2. Require the member to complete an anger management treatment
program upon a finding of a second offense.
3. Impose a $100 fine upon a finding of a third or subsequent
Here’s the good news for me. I’m 50 years old. In
about 5 years there’s no question that under this proposed new
law, I can get my wife convicted of bullying. She can be
intimidating, cause me to fear for my physical safety, makes
threatening gestures and even cyberbullies me when she tells me
off in electronic texts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of protecting
senior citizens. But, do we really need a law designed to
specifically only protect seniors that live in a 55 and over
community association? There are already laws that protect the
elderly from abusive behavior. There are already provisions of
the criminal code that make bullying and threats of violence or
gestures a crime. There are already computer crimes on the
books. There are already provisions of the Florida Condominium
Act and Homeowner Association Act that would allow the
association or its members to sue another owner who harasses or
intimidates another owner. Why does a Senior who lives in a 55
and over community warrant a special law for them as opposed to
a senior that doesn’t live in a 55 and over community? In fact,
I would guess that a senior is more likely to be a victim of
harassment or bullying if they were not living in a 55 and over
Do we want to give Boards of Directors in 55 and over
communities all of this additional work, instead of the Board
simply being able to sue the offender or report them to the
police? Why force the Board to do this work if the worst
penalty even a repeat offender can get is a $100.00 fine?
The men and women who live in our 55 and over communities today
are some of the toughest people this world has ever seen.
During their lifetimes, they stared down and beat up the world’s
biggest bullies. They don’t need this legislation to protect
them. And anyone who is sick and depraved enough to actually
bully an elderly person is not going to stop because of a
warning letter or hundred dollar fine. We all know what gets a
bully to stop their conduct. It only stops when someone stands
up to them and fights back.
This bill hardly does that.