CARTE BLANCHE FOR HOA
Published November 1, 2019
If you look at FS
720 (HOA ACT) it looks like the Florida Legislature is giving
developers of HOA communities carte blanche.
No matter the
problem, in the end the developers always win. So it seems?
Let’s face it:
Developers barely ever get prosecuted, no matter how many laws
they are violating. Not even a handful, to my knowledge, ended
up in jail.
I personally got
involved in HOA reforms, because the developer of the HOA I
moved into in St. Augustine, lied and cheated – and even gave us
the lies in writing. According to Florida statutes he committed
a 3. degree felony. But guess what: No state attorney’s office
was willing to prosecute him, despite the written proof. And the
AG at that time claimed that there wasn’t money in the budget to
prosecute these kind of crimes.
And when 63 owners
of the community finally sued the developer, we quickly found
out that the developer was allowed to pay his defense attorney
from our maintenance fees.
Well, that made me
mad -- and changing the laws on this matter was our first
success in Tallahassee: We changed the laws and no developer can
use association funds to defend lawsuits against him/her. See:
developers can still do whatever they want – and the developer
lobbyists in Tallahassee are a serious force to reckon with.
They have killed many owner-friendly bills.
Not only took the
legislature any warranties away from associations, the laws even
allow developers to stay in power forever. There are some
developers in Florida who consider running the community as a
source of extra income. Some developers don’t sell the last few
lots, so they never have to turn over management to the owners.
facts nobody should wonder anymore that the quality of
workmanship in HOAs has gone down the drain.
I always have to
laugh when the industry advertises these communities as places
of easy living: If you have never in your life been involved in
a lawsuit, just move into one of Florida’s HOAs. It normally
doesn’t take long before you get involved in some legal action.
||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