By Jan Bergemann

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 unit-owners.


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 care off:

  1. 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!

  2. Ease the financial burden condo-owners in hi-rises are facing!

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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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