By Jan Bergemann

Published February 4, 2022


Anybody who thought that the collapse of the Champlain Towers South would be a wake-up call for condo owners may have been mistaken.


Even after the disaster, that has cost the lives of 98 people living in this hi-rise building, many condo owners still cling to the believe that “easy-living” promised to them when buying into these condo associations is still correct.


Many of these, especially elderly owners, still want to ignore the fact that these buildings need constant maintenance and repairs – projects that take lots of money. And the money needed to do the necessary repair and maintenance is missing in most of these associations responsible for the upkeep of these buildings.


Since the Florida Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, removed the mandatory requirement of funding reserves in 2010, many of these associations plainly failed to continue to budget for fully funded reserves.


The result: Now, when the money is needed to do expensive repairs and maintenance, there is no money in the reserve funds to pay for these construction projects. And since most banks have withdrawn from the market of giving loans to condo associations these projects can only be paid for by special assessments. These special assessments can get as high as tens of thousands of dollars, money many of these condo owners just don’t have. And the so-called “specialized attorneys” are licking their chops. Liens and foreclosures are big business – little work with huge financial rewards for these attorneys.


Remember who was behind the bills that reneged the mandatory funding of reserves in 2010? The same “special interests folks” that are now seriously benefitting from the lack of reserve funds.


And many condo owners still support the efforts of “special interests” of watering down the common-sense bills filed by legislators – bills trying to prevent a repeat of the collapse of the condo hi-rise in Surfside.


This is the question condo owners complaining about increases in monthly maintenance fees caused by insurance premiums and mandatory reserves should be asked: “If you are unable to pay $100 or $ 200 more monthly for the maintenance fees, how will you be able to pay a special assessment of (maybe) $20,000.00 within 30 days if a structural repair is necessary?


Condo owners should think about it before they dig themselves into even bigger holes!

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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida 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 Tallahassee - 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 Florida 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 in Florida !

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