By Jan Bergemann

Published April 22, 2022


Apathy is rampant in community associations. Participation at board meetings – or even annual meetings with elections – is very low, often so low that the meeting can’t take place due to the lack of a quorum.


To me it seems pretty obvious that most owners plainly don’t understand that bad decisions of the board can ruin the personal finances of all owners. For most people the purchase of a home (or a condo) is the biggest investment of their life. Shouldn’t they be interested in protecting this investment?


But only serious financial issues will get a majority of owners in a community to raise their voices and complain. The easiest way to get apathetic owners to finally show up at meetings is a letter telling them that they have to pay for a special assessment within 30 days – or that the maintenance fees have to be increased by a big amount.


I often get these calls asking for information on how to “RECALL THE BOARD”. People just don’t understand that it is normally too late to make any changes once these letters have been sent out, or the budget has been approved by the board. This week I got a call from a lady who was upset about having to pay a very high special assessment and wanted to recall the board. When asking for the reasons I was told that an engineer was working on the 40-year certification and told the board that serious constructional work needed to be done. And guess what? The association has barely any reserve funds to speak of since the owners voted down reserve funding over the years.


Recalling the board would not change anything. What can a new board do to avoid the special assessment? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! They can’t miraculously create reserve funds nor can they ignore the necessary work that has been evaluated and stated in the engineer’s report.


Postponing the work? Not really possible any more after the disastrous collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside. Building departments will enforce 40-year inspections and will evacuate buildings that are not doing the necessary structural repairs.


In recent weeks we have seen quite a few condominium buildings being evacuated – making the families living in these buildings homeless.


I guess the owners should be interested in avoiding this kind of fate. Owners should participate in the association’s meetings, knowing what is going on in their building.



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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:

Educational Website:

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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