WHAT’S IMPORTANT FOR THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION?
Published January 13, 2023
Let’s face it: After the Surfside disaster costing the lives of
98 people the Florida Legislature had no other choice but to
pass the Condo Safety Bill SB-4D. Condo safety is important,
but definitely not at the cost of making families homeless. Many
retirees, especially the ones living of social security, will
not be able to afford the sudden steep increase of monthly
maintenance fees. The Legislators have to create a way that will
make the reserves built up slowly, but on the other hand make
sure that the associations – and their boards – are actually
doing what they are supposed to do. And they have to find a way
to protect these reserve funds from over-eager board members who
want to use these funds for their pet-projects rather than the
purpose intended. Many owners don’t want to build up reserves
because they have seen reserve funds disappearing for all kinds
of stuff (including embezzlement) and they had to pay special
assessments in order to pay for repairs these reserve funds were
initially intended for. Without punishment for folks abusing
these reserve funds it will be a very hard sell to many of these
But all these legislative improvements are useless without
STRICT ENFORCEMENT of existing laws – for all community
associations. Owners have to fight for inspecting the financial
records at the expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars (see
example Boca View Condominium) and boards – with the help of
greedy attorneys – are able to avoid record inspection for many
years. We saw the results in the Hammocks, where allegedly more
than $2million were embezzled. Owners tried for years to inspect
the financials – the Division – despite FS 718.501(1)7. was of
absolutely no help. The board even sued law enforcement officers
and the SA office trying to avoid investigations.
In short: The Florida Legislature has two serious tasks to take
Create an enforcement agency for ALL community
associations that really does the job, enforcing the laws
that regulate these communities. Owners have to be sure that
the laws are really enforced, not just written on paper!
Ease the financial burden condo-owners in hi-rises are
Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice,
's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group.
CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in
associations. He moved to
in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the
developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues
for his own purposes. End of retirement!
CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in
- finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a
member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.
The organization has two websites to inform interested
homeowners and condo owners:
News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.
Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.
We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all
service providers surely have a different interest! We are
trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are
useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking