By Jan Bergemann

Published May 13, 2022


There is a lot to consider if you’re leaving your unit for a longer period of time – like our so-called “snow-birds” do every year. Actually, the best solution is definitely to have “friendly” neighbors – neighbors you trust – in charge of your unit while you’re gone. There is always the possibility that something happens in your unit that could create long-lasting damages not only to your unit, but as well to neighbors or units below your unit. You could be held liable for these kind of damages that could be avoided if detected early.


But a lot of association documents require owners to leave keys with management or the board. But that definitely is a matter of trust – and many owners just don’t trust them. And there have been lots of cases where board members and/or the CAM abused this trust. Folks having installed video cameras in their units discovered that folks entered their units, watched TV, helping themselves to drinks and even stealing property.


In one case in Naples the CAM, trusted with the key and the exact date of departure and arrival back for the winter, rented out the unit, making big bucks. But the owner, realizing that somebody had been living in her apartment for the summer, had a hard time proving it.


Here is my advice to folks who leave their unit for a longer period of time and have to leave a key with the office: Install video-cameras with motion-detectors in some rooms of your unit, cameras you can watch over the Internet.


You may prevent some ugly surprises on your return to your home and/or may deter disallowed use of your keys.


You know the old saying: “TRUST IS GOOD, BUT CONTROL IS BETTER!”


It still works, even if it’s a quote by Vladimir Lenin.

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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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