By Jan Bergemann

Published December 14, 2012


Yes, homeowners living and owning property in Florida ’s homeowners’ associations desperately need consumer protection, but HOA REFORMS are even more important for Florida's economy and real estate market. Florida's media just reported yesterday that 7 (seven) of Florida ’s counties are among the Top Ten leading the charts for most new foreclosure filings in the nation.


In order to recover it is imperative for Florida's economy and real estate market to get the steady flow of new retirees, snowbirds and investors coming again.


Florida was for a long time the Number One destination in the nation for retirees and snowbirds. We still have the same sun, the same white beaches and the same low taxes, but we are now only Number Three on the list.


To make a full recovery of our real estate market, we need to be aware of what is happening in HOAs in Florida and how it is affecting new retirees, snowbirds and investors, all of whom are needed to again create a healthy real estate market.


But the many media reports about the nightmare of living in an Florida HOA is hurting our state's image, keeping retirees from moving to Florida to live the hassle-free lifestyle that we have known for years. We need again retirees and snowbirds buying property in Florida . Building new homes will not attract them; neither will the estimated 400,000 empty homes and condos. They won’t come to Florida, as long as the media tells the stories of neighbors having to pay special assessments, caused by a high percentage of owners no longer paying their dues driving even more families to default on their payments as well, causing them to lose their homes. Who wants to risk his/her life-savings in a state with such a horrible reputation?


We have to make Florida again attractive for retirees and snowbirds. Being Number Three behind Arizona and the Carolinas is definitely not what we want and not what our economy needs.


An HOA REFORM BILL will not cost the State of Florida a dime, but it will surely help to rebuild the great reputation our state once had: Being The Sunshine State where retirees and snowbirds can live happily in warm temperatures, enjoying sunshine, white beaches and many attractions.


Two important bills will be sponsored for the 2013 legislative session and will contain these provisions:

1.)   Regulatory Agency

2.)   Election Regulations

3.)   Board Member Certification

4.)   Board Member Eligibility

5.)   Developer Turnover Control

6.)   Prohibit directors from receiving any kind of “kickbacks”

7.)   Director’s Vote – Conflict of Interest

8.)   Removal of directors charged with crimes

9.)   Disallow unfair fees for photocopying requested records


The most important part of these bills: EASY ENFORCEMENT! We all know that the best law is useless without enforcement. Over the years many provisions were added to Florida Statutes 720, but it seems that nobody ever cared about the fact that the enforcement of many of these provisions was nearly impossible.


It is definitely not fair that 1.4 million condo owners can call an 800 number and get their complaint handled, while about 2.5 million owners of properties located in HOAs must hire a lawyer and go to court for even the simplest of complaints. Many associations have to waste outrageous legal fees in lengthy court battles, money that would be needed to cover regular bills.


But it will take the active help of many board members and homeowners to make these bills a reality. So, as the saying goes in Tallahassee: Let’s get to work!”

See you tomorrow in Orlando ??

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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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