OPPOSING OPINIONS
As you can imagine, especially the attorneys and the board members are unhappy with this bill, since it creates checks and balances and intends to protect unit-owners from many known abuses. Below you find a few copies of e-mails sent to the members of the House Committee on Business Regulation. Many of these senders were kind enough to copy CCFJ, Inc. But any correspondence to legislators is anyway public record! You'll find some interesting statements.

A Memorandum, written by Gary Poliakoff on 3/8/2004, caused many of the board members to send these e-mails. Some even use parts of it. See below!

This memorandum starts with this opening (QUOTE):
Dear Members of the Board:
The above advisory warning is not a joke. During the 31 plus years I have been an advocate for the rights of condominium unit owners, as well as for laws granting condominium association boards of directors the necessary authority to maintain and operate the condominium in a manner that protects the rights and interests of ALL unit owners, I have never seen proposed legislation which is more destructive of the condominium concept than HB 1223 and its Senate Companion, SB 2498.

I don't want to argue about the merits of his statements. Just read the article about the hearing. I just thought you might like these e-mails for future references. Here we go!

ATTORNEYS FIRST:

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael E. Chapnick [mailto:mchapnick@katzkorr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 3:08 PM
Subject: House Bill 1223
 

As a firm primarily devoted to the representation of Community Associations, presently representing approximately four hundred and fifty community associations throughout Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties, we would like to express our concern and opposition to House Bill 1223, scheduled to be heard before the Florida House Business and Regulations Committee on March 10, 2004. As you know, common interest communities are managed and operated by volunteer Boards of Directors who contribute considerable time and energy, without compensation, to ensure that their most highly valued investment is properly maintained. Under the best of circumstances it is difficult to obtain volunteers to serve on these boards of directors due to the investment of time which is typically required. Further, these volunteer board members are frequently subjected to verbal, and occasionally, physical abuse by members of the community who are either dissatisfied with association operations, or the fact that these disgruntled members are being required to comply with the association's governing documents. Addressing issues of community association covenants is certainly a noble and worth while undertaking for the legislature. However, the proposals contained within House Bill 1223 would likely have the effect of making it more, and not less, difficult for community associations to operate. Therefore, we respectfully request that House Bill 1223 not be reported out of Committee.

Michael E. Chapnick 
The Law Offices of Katzman & Korr 
Inverrary Financial Center - 2nd Floor 
5581 West Oakland Park Boulevard 
Lauderhill, Florida  33313 

Tel:       954.486.7774 
Fax       954.486.7782 
Web:    www.katzkorr.com 



-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Heinish [mailto:mheinish@katzkorr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 11:07 AM
Subject: community association legislation

I am not in favor of the proposed legislation, which appears to take a shot gun approach to killing a pesky fly.  See below talking points from CAI.

TALKING POINTS: 
I regret to tell you that our group has many serious concerns about these bills, some of which I outline below.  Among the things that this bill proposes to do are the following:
1.      To divest owners of multiple units of more than one vote.  This would deprive owners of more than one unit a voice equal to their financial investment in the community.  We believe this is both an unconstitutional taking of the property rights of existing owners and a disincentive to further development of condominiums in Florida since it fails to make an exception for units owned by condominium developers. (Proposed change to S. 718.104(4)(j), Fla. Stat.)
2.     To create a second class of owners with rights different from existing owners. Those new owners could not be restricted by amendments duly adopted by the members of the association that could operate to " ....restrict[...] unit owners' rights relating to the rental of units, keeping of pets, or allocation of parking spaces." The language of the proposal is unnecessary vague. For example, does a limit on the number of occupants in a unit to prevent overcrowding, or the setting of a minimum rental period to prevent short term hotel-like operations, restrict rental rights?  Does the designation of pet-free zones such as elevators, to assist allergic or pet averse persons restrict pet rights?  Also, the creation of a second class of owners whose rights are dependent entirely upon when they bought creates equal protection problems when imposed by state action, and the courts have uniformly stricken private amendments that attempt to do the same thing. (Proposed addition of 718.110(13), Fla. Stat.)
3.      To restrict who can serve on the volunteer Board of Directors of a condominium association by: 
    (A)     Prohibiting anyone who hasn't actually lived in the condominium for at least one-quarter of the year preceding the election from serving. (No provision is made concerning non-election appointments.)  This has the effect of preventing investor owners and others who, because of illness, business, travel or other exigencies of life have been absent from their property from acting fully to protect their investments, particularly when the Condominium Act allows Directors to attend Board meetings via speakerphone, and 
    (B)     Imposing term limits of two (2) years on any serving director, and
    (C)    Requiring criminal background checks on all volunteer candidates, These checks  would be available to all owners (and hence available for further dissemination, notwithstanding any public records exceptions), and
    (D)    Prevent persons within a wide degree of relationship (e.g. second cousins, half- and step-relations, and even great uncles and aunts) from serving on a Board of Directors at the same time.  
    The pool of candidates who are available and willing to serve in these usually thankless positions is small enough without making it smaller through use of arbitrary and unfair distinctions. The invasiveness of these proposals is enough, we feel, to drive off the typical, well-intentioned volunteer.  
    The language also neglects to differentiate the actions of condominium developers, thus preventing developers from controlling boards for more than two (2) years during development and build-out, or preventing members of family-owned development companies from having their family members serving on the developer-controlled board.  (Proposed addition of Section 718.1125, Fla. Stat.)
4.     To prevent associations from fully collecting unpaid assessments, interest, costs and late fees, and delaying when a condominium may act to collect a delinquent account.  As any person can understand, to maximize collections you need to minimize the amount you are trying to collect.  By delaying the collection process the bill only increases the likelihood that not all assessments and related charges will be recovered. When a condominium fails to collect from one owner, all of the others must make up the difference.  Also, by changing the order in which partial payments are applied and preventing some debt from becoming the subject of a lien, associations will likely have to forget collection of interest and late fees, something that is required of no other Florida business.  Finally, by attempting to increase by five (5) fold, the potential liability for unpaid assessment imposed on first mortgage holders, the proposal will reduce the availability of mortgage financing for owners and incur the enmity of the mortgage banking interests. (Proposed amendments to Section 718.116, Fla. Stat.)
5.      To impose criminal liability for maliciously imposing a lien for the purpose of trying to acquire a unit.  While we suspect that this sort of action is quite rare, we foresee that counterclaims based on this theory will be interposed in many, many lien foreclosure actions, as an attempt to impose personal liability and take retribution on directors who have to make the difficult decision to foreclose the association's lien.  (Proposed addition of Section 718.116(6)(e), Fla. Stat.)
6.     To interfere with the performance by the association of its necessary and statutory duties, such as maintaining, repairing and replacing the common elements. This occurs through the use of this vague proposed language:
    .... any action of the board, even those characterized as special assessments, that imposes a financial hardship on any or all of the unit owners must be ratified by a majority of the voting interests at a duly convened meeting of the association to be held within 60 days of such action or such action shall be void. 
    As you may know, most associations face real problems with apathy.  If a majority of the members can not be cajoled into voting on a necessary repair, it cannot be undertaken.  Consider what will occur in a natural disaster when the members are disbursed and difficult to find at the very time when necessary action is most needed. In an apathetic or highly absentee community essential services may go begging, simply because a single owner alleges "financial hardship."  As bad, the proposal fails to give any objective standard for what constitutes a financial hardship.  A single owner operating in bad faith could downgrade the standards of an entire community. (Proposed addition of Section 718.3025(4), Fla. Stat.)
7.    To require competitive bidding for all goods and services, even as to its employees.  We suspect that it will be unrealistically hard to find three (3) maintenance workers willing to bid against each other for a part time job. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.3026, Fla. Stat.)
8.      To mandate training by the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes for all new board members, thereby imposing yet new financial obligations on an over-burdened and shrinking state government. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.501(1), Fla. Stat.)
9.      To create both an ombudsman and advisory council with broad powers and a mandate to assist owners in disputes with their associations.  Again, we feel this is neither a wise use of tax resources, nor an appropriate balancing of the rights of individual owners and their collective associations.
We respectfully suggest that the proposals in the bill are vague, poorly drafted, ill-conceived and not at all in the best interests of the citizens of the State of Florida or your constituents.

Mark M. Heinish 

The Law Offices of Katzman & Korr 
Inverrary Financial Center - 2nd Floor 
5581 West Oakland Park Boulevard 
Lauderhill, Florida  33313 

Tel:       954.486.7774 
Fax       954.486.7782 
Web:    www.katzkorr.com 


-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Kaye [mailto:rkaye@rkayelaw.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 11:12 AM
Subject: House Bill 1223

This law firm represents approximately 400 community associations in Broward, north Miami-Dade and South Palm Beach counties.  The proposals being considered in House Bill 1223.  Among the negative results of this
bill are the following:
1. To divest owners of multiple units of more than one vote. This would deprive owners of more than one unit a voice equal to their financial investment in the community. We believe this is both an unconstitutional taking of the property rights of existing owners and a disincentive to further development of condominiums in Florida since it fails to make an exception for units owned by condominium developers. (Proposed change to S. 718.104(4)(j), Fla. Stat.)
2. To create a second class of owners with rights different from existing owners. Those new owners could not be restricted by amendments duly adopted by the members of the association that could operate to " ....restrict[...] unit owners' rights relating to the rental of units, keeping of pets, or allocation of parking spaces." The language of the proposal is unnecessary vague. For example, does a limit on the number of occupants in a unit to prevent overcrowding, or the setting of a minimum rental period to preventshort term hotel-like operations, restrict rental rights? Does the designation of pet-free zones such as elevators, to assist allergic or pet
averse persons restrict pet rights? Also, the creation of a second class of owners whose rights are dependent entirely upon when they bought creates equal protection problems when imposed by state action, and the courts have uniformly stricken private amendments that attempt to do the same thing.
(Proposed addition of 718.110(13), Fla. Stat.)
3. To restrict who can serve on the volunteer Board of Directors of a
condominium association by:
(A) Prohibiting anyone who hasn't actually lived in the condominium for at least one-quarter of the year preceding the election from serving. (No provision is made concerning non-election appointments.) This has the effect of preventing investor owners and others who, because of illness, business, travel or other exigencies of life have been absent from their property from acting fully to protect their investments, particularly when the Condominium Act allows Directors to attend Board meetings via speakerphone, and
(B) Imposing term limits of two (2) years on any serving director, and
(C) Requiring criminal background checks on all volunteer candidates, These checks would be available to all owners (and hence available for further dissemination, notwithstanding any public records exceptions), and
(D) Prevent persons within a wide degree of relationship (e.g. second cousins, half- and step-relations, and even great uncles and aunts) from serving on a Board of Directors at the same time.
The pool of candidates who are available and willing to serve in these usually thankless positions is small enough without making it smaller through use of arbitrary and unfair distinctions. The invasiveness of these proposals is enough, we feel, to drive off the typical, well-intentioned volunteer.
The language also neglects to differentiate the actions of condominium developers, thus preventing developers from controlling boards for more than two (2) years during development and build-out, or preventing members of family-owned development companies from having their family members serving on the developer-controlled board. (Proposed addition of Section 718.1125, Fla. Stat.)
4. To prevent associations from fully collecting unpaid assessments, interest, costs and late fees, and delaying when a condominium may act to collect a delinquent account. As any person can understand, to maximize
collections you need to minimize the amount you are trying to collect. By delaying the collection process the bill only increases the likelihood that not all assessments and related charges will be recovered. When a condominium fails to collect from one owner, all of the others must make up the difference. Also, by changing the order in which partial payments are applied and preventing some debt from becoming the subject of a lien,
associations will likely have to forget collection of interest and late fees, something that is required of no other Florida business. Finally, by attempting to increase by five (5) fold, the potential liability for unpaid
assessment imposed on first mortgage holders, the proposal will reduce the availability of mortgage financing for owners and incur the enmity of the mortgage banking interests. (Proposed amendments to Section 718.116, Fla.
Stat.)
5. To impose criminal liability for maliciously imposing a lien for the purpose of trying to acquire a unit. While we suspect that this sort of action is quite rare, we foresee that counterclaims based on this theory will be interposed in many, many lien foreclosure actions, as an attempt to impose personal liability and take retribution on directors who have to make the difficult decision to foreclose the association's lien. (Proposed addition of Section 718.116(6)(e), Fla. Stat.)
6. To interfere with the performance by the association of its necessary and statutory duties, such as maintaining, repairing and replacing the common elements. This occurs through the use of this vague proposed language:
... any action of the board, even those characterized as special assessments, that imposes a financial hardship on any or all of the unit owners must be ratified by a majority of the voting interests at a duly convened meeting of the association to be held within 60 days of such action or such action shall be void. As you may know, most associations face real problems with apathy. If a majority of the members can not be cajoled into voting on a necessary repair, it cannot be undertaken. Consider what will occur in a natural disaster when the members are disbursed and difficult to find at the very time when necessary action is most needed. In an apathetic or highly absentee community essential services may go begging, simply because a single owner alleges "financial hardship." As bad, the proposal fails to give any objective standard for what constitutes a financial hardship. A single owner operating in bad faith could downgrade the standards of an entire community. (Proposed addition of Section 718.3025(4), Fla. Stat.)
7. To require competitive bidding for all goods and services, even as to its employees. It will be unrealistically hard to find three (3) maintenance workers willing to bid against each other for a part time job. (Proposed
amendment to Section 718.3026, Fla. Stat.)
8. To mandate training by the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes for all new board members, thereby imposing yet new financial obligations on an over-burdened and shrinking state government. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.501(1), Fla. Stat.)
9. To create both an ombudsman and advisory council with broad powers and a mandate to assist owners in disputes with their associations. Again, it is suggested that this is neither a wise use of tax resources, nor an
appropriate balancing of the rights of individual owners and their collective associations.

It is respectfully suggested that the proposals in the bill are vague, poorly drafted, ill-conceived and not at all in the best interests of the citizens of the State of Florida or your constituents.  You are urged not to support this legistlation.

REMARK: This e-mail wasn't signed.
But the e-mail address goes back to:
Robert L Kaye 
     
Robert Kaye & Associates P A
6261 NW 6th Way Ste 103
Fort Lauderdale Florida 33309-6103 
954/928-0680


From: Leigh Katzman [mailto:lkatzman@katzkorr.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 10:46 AM
To: Betty Marshall (E-mail); Bill Sugarman (E-mail); BOGEN2000 (E-mail); Carol Eskew (E-mail); Cleo Crismond (E-mail); Steve Fischer; Donn Grushka (E-mail); Elliot Schiller - Hidden Lake (E-mail); Flamgr (E-mail); Henry Crouser (E-mail); Henry Crouser H (E-mail); Howard Koslow (E-mail); Inc. BOD - Mark Goodman LMHOA (E-mail); Jaison Lecount VORM (E-mail); James Nyquist (E-mail); Ira Goldfarb (E-mail); Jan Carrol (E-mail); Javier FTL Bardales (E-mail); Jessica Conover (E-mail); Joel Messinger (E-mail); John Keating (E-mail); Karin YANEZ (E-mail); Lorraine Nathanson (E-mail); Marilyn Meyers (E-mail); Mark Poff (E-mail); Marshall Kremen (E-mail); Rad DIAZ (E-mail); Robert Barea (E-mail); Ron Shayne (E-mail); Rose McKay (E-mail); RPTL (E-mail); Stuart T. Kapp (E-mail); SwiftMgmt (E-mail); SwiftMgmt (E-mail 2); Vip_Mgmt (E-mail); Vito A. Gambelunghe (E-mail); Vito Gambelunghe (E-mail); VOR Board (E-mail)
Subject: FW: CAI-FLA: Legislative Call To Action

Hello All, I have received this e-mail today from the Florida Legislative Alliance of CAI.  It is imperative that this e-mail be immediately distributed to all of your known contacts which deal directly with community association issues.  There is a meeting in the legislature scheduled for Wednesday March 10, @ 3:30 P.M. in Tallahassee to discuss the proposed legislative changes.  Please take the time to read FLA's comments on the proposed legislative action as detailed below.  After doing so, it is requested that you provide comment to all of the members of the legislature listed below.  

For many months now, there has been a well publicized bashing of community associations and the laws which govern them.  This anti-association sentiment has been championed by a vocal minority of disgruntled homeowners living within community associations throughout the state.  It is time for the professionals who serve community associations, along with the multitude of satisfied residents who reside within those associations to let their voices be heard.  It is time for the silent majority to speak. 

Take action today, right now, and contact the below legislators to voice your opposition to the proposed Bill.  On this election day, please take an active role in ensuring the effective operation of community associations throughout the state.  

This proposed Bill, if adopted, will seriously impede the associations ability to function.

ORIGINAL MESSAGE

Greetings Delegates and other interested parties,
CAI-FLA does not support this bill.  Please use the addresses of members of the committee as furnished here and send a message to them stating that we have issues with these bills.  You may refer to Paul Wean's talking points (immediately below the addresses) in your letter.  E-mailed letters in opposition should be sent to committee members prior to Wednesday's 3:30 PM hearing.  Please disperse this information further to all who might also send e-mails opposing the bills.  Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Janet Rackley



Richard L. Spears is a former CAI Executive and author of the infamous OCHA letters, headlined: "NO MORE FORECLOSURES!" where he tried to speak out against a bill that wasn't even filed.
And his name-calling definitely wasn't much appreciated.
He is in the moment serving as the Chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics!
Comment: 
After reading his quote: " I found myself in the position of a kind of Homeowners Association "guru" as the result of many years of service in the field," you would most likely expect a little more than just a copy of Gary Poliakoff's memorandum?
-----Original Message-----
From: Spears9132@aol.com [mailto:Spears9132@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 2:34 PM
Subject: HB 1223 -- Dick Spears Comments

Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen:

    Your committee will consider this bill (HB 1223) on Wednesday afternoon.  As such, it is important that you be aware of its serious shortcomings as they relate to the citizens of Florida who have chosen to live in condominiums.

    Before I deal with them, however, you should be alerted to the fact that a noisy minority, unable to resolve issues on their own, will be pushing to make the ombudsman provision of HB 1223 apply to single family homeowners associations in addition to condominiums.  This is an attempt to sneak the "camel's nose under the tent flap" of homeowners associations as a beginning of a state agency to regulate them -- which proposition flies in the face of property rights, property values and the traditional treatment of homeowners associations as a solemn contract/agreement between owners as a group without government interference. Should such an amendment be offered, I urge you to defeat it if for no other reason that condominiums and single family homes are far different things -- one being traditional housing and the other being a child of the law. 

   As to HB 1223 itself, there are a number of things that this bill proposes to do.  Among them are several undesirable provisions including the following.  The bill proposes:

1.      To divest owners of multiple units of more than one vote.  This would deprive owners of more than one unit a voice equal to their financial investment in the community.  I believe this is both an unconstitutional taking of the property rights of existing owners and a disincentive to further development of condominiums in Florida since it fails to make an exception for units owned by condominium developers. (Proposed change to S. 718.104(4)(j), Fla. Stat.)

2.     To create a second class of owners with rights different from existing owners. Those new owners could not be restricted by amendments duly adopted by the members of the association that could operate to “ ....restrict[...] unit owners' rights relating to the rental of units, keeping of pets, or allocation of parking spaces.” The language of the proposal is unnecessary vague. For example, does a limit on the number of occupants in a unit to prevent overcrowding, or the setting of a minimum rental period to prevent short term hotel-like operations, restrict rental rights?  Does the designation of pet-free zones such as elevators, to assist allergic or pet averse persons restrict pet rights?  Also, the creation of a second class of owners whose rights are dependent entirely upon when they bought creates equal protection problems when imposed by state action, and the courts have uniformly stricken private amendments that attempt to do the same thing. (Proposed addition of 718.110(13), Fla. Stat.)

3.      To restrict who can serve on the volunteer Board of Directors of a condominium association by: 
    (A)     Prohibiting anyone who hasn't actually lived in the condominium for at least one-quarter of the year preceding the election from serving. (No provision is made concerning non-election appointments.)  This has the effect of preventing investor owners and others who, because of illness, business, travel or other exigencies of life have been absent from their property from acting fully to protect their investments, particularly when the Condominium Act allows Directors to attend Board meetings via speakerphone, and 
    (B)     Imposing term limits of two (2) years on any serving director, and
    (C)    Requiring criminal background checks on all volunteer candidates, These checks  would be available to all owners (and hence available for further dissemination, notwithstanding any public records exceptions) not to mention that they are prohibitively costly, and
    (D)    Prevent persons within a wide degree of relationship (e.g. second cousins, half and step relations, and even great uncles and aunts) from serving on a Board of Directors at the same time.  

    The pool of candidates who are available and willing to serve in these usually thankless positions is small enough without making it smaller through use of arbitrary and unfair distinctions. The invasiveness of these proposals is enough, we feel, to drive off the typical, well-intentioned volunteer.  

    The language also neglects to differentiate the actions of condominium developers, thus preventing developers from controlling boards for more than two (2) years during development and build-out, or preventing members of family owned development companies from having their family members serving on the developer-controlled board  (Proposed addition of Section 718.1125, Fla. Stat.)

4.     To prevent associations from fully collecting unpaid assessments, interest, costs and late fees, and delaying when a condominium may act to collect a delinquent account.  As any person can understand, to maximize collections you need to minimize the amount you are trying to collect.  By delaying the collection process the bill only increases the likelihood that not all assessments and related charges will be recovered. When a condominium fails to collect from one owner, all of the others must make up the difference.  Also, by changing the order in which partial payments are applied and preventing some debt from becoming the subject of a lien, associations will likely have to forget collection of interest and late fees, something that is required of no other Florida business.  Finally, by attempting to increase by five (5) fold, the potential liability for unpaid assessment imposed on first mortgage holders, the proposal will reduce the availability of mortgage financing for owners and incur the enmity of the mortgage banking interests. (Proposed amendments to Section 718.116, Fla. Stat.)

5.      To impose criminal liability for maliciously imposing a lien for the purpose of trying to acquire a unit.  While I suspect that this sort of action is quite rare, I foresee that counterclaims based on this theory will be interposed in many, many lien foreclosure actions, as an attempt to impose personal liability and take retribution on directors who have to make the difficult decision to foreclose the association’s lien.  (Proposed addition of Section 718.116(6)(e), Fla. Stat.)

6.     To interfere with the performance by the association of its necessary and statutory duties, such as maintaining, repairing and replacing the common elements. This occurs through the use of this vague proposed language:
    .... any action of the board, even those characterized as special assessments, that imposes a financial hardship on any or all of the unit owners must be ratified by a majority of the voting interests at a duly convened meeting of the association to be held within 60 days of such action or such action shall be void. 
    As you may know, most associations face real problems with apathy.  If a majority of the members cannot be cajoled into voting on a necessary repair, it cannot be undertaken.  Consider what will occur in a natural disaster when the members are disbursed and difficult to find at the very time when necessary action is most needed. In an apathetic or highly absentee community essential services may go begging, simply because a single owner alleges “financial hardship.”  As bad, the proposal fails to give any objective standard for what constitutes a financial hardship.  A single owner operating in bad faith could downgrade the standards of an entire community. (Proposed addition of Section 718.3025(4), Fla. Stat.)

7.    To require competitive bidding for all goods and services, even as to its employees.  I suspect that it will be unrealistically hard to find three (3) maintenance workers willing to bid against each other for a part time job. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.3026, Fla. Stat.)

8.      To mandate training by the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes for all new board members, thereby imposing yet new financial obligations on an overburdened and shrinking state government. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.501(1), Fla. Stat.)

9.      To create both an ombudsman and advisory council with broad powers and a mandate to assist owners in disputes with their associations.  Again, I believe this is neither a wise use of tax resources, nor an appropriate balancing of the rights of individual owners and their collective associations.

    I respectfully suggest that the proposals in the bill are vague, poorly drafted, ill-conceived and not at all in the best interest of the citizens of the State of Florida or your constituents.

     As many of you know, I have found myself in the position of a kind of Homeowners Association "guru" as the result of many years of service in the field.  I did not seek such a position, but I do believe that all of us have a duty to "give back" in our wonderful country and state.  It is in that spirit that I respectfully submit the foregoing.

                                                        Richard L. Spears


And property managers:
-----Original Message-----
From: Bob V./Carol L. [mailto:mgrsoffc@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 8:19 AM
Subject: HB 1223

Dear Representative,

After reviewing HB1223, I (and my association members) find that the Bill, if passed, would add a great deal of confusion, cost and hardship to all.  Although I find some of the issues worth further study, this particular Bill should not be passed. As a full-charge Property Manager to several associations for over twenty years, I urge you to vote NO.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

M. Carol Lindsey

COMMENT: Since there is normally always the argument that most unit-owners don't participate, it is really amazing how fast they got the approval from the unit-owners to speak in their name!


-----Original Message-----
From: TRear1971@aol.com [mailto:TRear1971@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 7:15 AM
Subject: HB 1223 DO NOT PASS THIS PROPOSAL

As a professional Community Association Manager managing over 114 communities in the Tampa Bay area and a director in my own community association for 23 years I can only pray that this proposed legislation is defeated

A very vocal minority (namely the Cybercitizens for Justice: www.ccfj.net) are hard at work making e-mails and calls urging legislators to institute these drastic "reforms": 2yr. term limits, criminal background checks on ALL potential candidates for the Board at $200.00 apiece per report, majority approval for ANY special assessment even for needed maintenance and repairs and the list goes on.

No well meaning volunteer would ever subject themselves to this kind of scrutiny ever.
IN this day and age it is hard enough to find homeowners willing to serve on their community board's.  The current laws already provide all the necessary protections that are necessary.
Please, vote against HB 1223
    Thomas P. Reardon CMCA
    Vice President
    PROGRESSIVE MANAGEMENT, INC.



-----Original Message-----
From: Admiraltyoffice@aol.com [mailto:Admiraltyoffice@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 9:30 AM
Subject: HB 1223
March 9, 2004
admiraltyoffice@aol.com

HB 1223 is a terrible piece of legislation.  We have these items addressed in our Declaration of Condominium Documents.  

If associations are not satisfied with their documents, all they need to do is change them.  There is no reason force this HB on associations that do not need or wont it.

Enough is enough.

Charles L. Harty
Manager
Admiralty House, Inc. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Fletcher, Dave [mailto:dfletcher@mail.barry.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 11:56 AM
Subject: Impending Legislative Issues

 Dear Committee Members:

For many months now, there has been a well publicized bashing of community associations and the laws which govern them.  This anti-association sentiment has been championed by a vocal minority of disgruntled homeowners living within community associations throughout the state.  I would like to voice my opposition to the proposed Bill.  This proposed Bill, if adopted, will seriously impede the associations’ ability to function.

1.      To divest owners of multiple units of more than one vote.  This would deprive owners of more than one unit a voice equal to their financial investment in the community.  I believe this is both an unconstitutional taking of the property rights of existing owners and a disincentive to further development of condominiums in Florida since it fails to make an exception for units owned by condominium developers. (Proposed change to S. 718.104(4)(j), Fla. Stat.)
2.     To create a second class of owners with rights different from existing owners. Those new owners could not be restricted by amendments duly adopted by the members of the association that could operate to " ...restrict[...] unit owners' rights relating to the rental of units, keeping of pets, or allocation of parking spaces." The language of the proposal is unnecessary vague. For example, does a limit on the number of occupants in a unit to prevent overcrowding, or the setting of a minimum rental period to prevent short term hotel-like operations, restrict rental rights?  Does the designation of pet-free zones such as elevators, to assist allergic or pet averse persons restrict pet rights?  Also, the creation of a second class of owners whose rights are dependent entirely upon when they bought creates equal protection problems when imposed by state action, and the courts have uniformly stricken private amendments that attempt to do the same thing. (Proposed addition of 718.110(13), Fla. Stat.)
3.      To restrict who can serve on the volunteer Board of Directors of a condominium association by: 
    (A)     Prohibiting anyone who hasn't actually lived in the condominium for at least one-quarter of the year preceding the election from serving. (No provision is made concerning non-election appointments.)  This has the effect of preventing investor owners and others who, because of illness, business, travel or other exigencies of life have been absent from their property from acting fully to protect their investments, particularly when the Condominium Act allows Directors to attend Board meetings via speakerphone, and 
    (B)     Imposing term limits of two (2) years on any serving director, and
    (C)    Requiring criminal background checks on all volunteer candidates, these checks would be available to all owners (and hence available for further dissemination, notwithstanding any public records exceptions), and
    (D)    Prevent persons within a wide degree of relationship (e.g. second cousins, half- and step-relations, and even great uncles and aunts) from serving on a Board of Directors at the same time.  
    The pool of candidates who are available and willing to serve in these usually thankless positions is small enough without making it smaller through use of arbitrary and unfair distinctions. The invasiveness of these proposals is enough, I feel, to drive off the typical, well-intentioned volunteer.  
    The language also neglects to differentiate the actions of condominium developers, thus preventing developers from controlling boards for more than two (2) years during development and build-out, or preventing members of family-owned development companies from having their family members serving on the developer-controlled board.  (Proposed addition of Section 718.1125, Fla. Stat.)
4.     To prevent associations from fully collecting unpaid assessments, interest, costs and late fees, and delaying when a condominium may act to collect a delinquent account.  As any person can understand, to maximize collections you need to minimize the amount you are trying to collect.  By delaying the collection process the bill only increases the likelihood that not all assessments and related charges will be recovered. When a condominium fails to collect from one owner, all of the others must make up the difference  Also, by changing the order in which partial payments are applied and preventing some debt from becoming the subject of a lien, associations will likely have to forget collection of interest and late fees, something that is required of no other Florida business.  Finally, by attempting to increase by five (5) fold, the potential liability for unpaid assessment imposed on first mortgage holders, the proposal will reduce the availability of mortgage financing for owners and incur the enmity of the mortgage banking interests. (Proposed amendments to Section 718.116, Fla. Stat.)
5.      To impose criminal liability for maliciously imposing a lien for the purpose of trying to acquire a unit.  While we suspect that this sort of action is quite rare, I foresee that counterclaims based on this theory will be interposed in many, many lien foreclosure actions, as an attempt to impose personal liability and take retribution on directors who have to make the difficult decision to foreclose the association's lien.  (Proposed addition of Section 718.116(6)(e), Fla Stat.)
6.     To interfere with the performance by the association of its necessary and statutory duties, such as maintaining, repairing and replacing the common elements. This occurs through the use of this vague proposed language:
    .... any action of the board, even those characterized as special assessments, that imposes a financial hardship on any or all of the unit owners must be ratified by a majority of the voting interests at a duly convened meeting of the association to be held within 60 days of such action or such action shall be void. 
    As you may know, most associations face real problems with apathy.  If a majority of the members can not be cajoled into voting on a necessary repair, it cannot be undertaken.  Consider what will occur in a natural disaster when the members are disbursed and difficult to find at the very time when necessary action is most needed. In an apathetic or highly absentee community essential services may go begging, simply because a single owner alleges "financial hardship."  As bad, the proposal fails to give any objective standard for what constitutes a financial hardship.  A single owner operating in bad faith could downgrade the standards of an entire community. (Proposed addition of Section 718.3025(4), Fla. Stat.)
7.    To require competitive bidding for all goods and services, even as to its employees.  I suspect that it will be unrealistically hard to find three (3) maintenance workers willing to bid against each other for a part time job. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.3026, Fla. Stat.)
8.      To mandate training by the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes for all new board members, thereby imposing yet new financial obligations on an over-burdened and shrinking state government. (Proposed amendment to Section 718.501(1), Fla. Stat.)
9.      To create both an ombudsman and advisory council with broad powers and a mandate to assist owners in disputes with their associations.  Again, I feel this is neither a wise use of tax resources, nor an appropriate balancing of the rights of individual owners and their collective associations.
I respectfully suggest that the proposals in the bill are vague, poorly drafted, ill-conceived and not at all in the best interests of the citizens of the State of Florida or your constituents.

                Sincerely,
            Dave C. Fletcher
            2421 N 40 Ave 108
            Hollywood FL 33021
            954.985.0201


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Gasper-Club Destin [mailto:garygasper@clubdestin.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 9:52 AM
Subject: hb 1223

The Board of Directors ask that I advise you of their opposition to this House Bill. Our homeowners feel strongly opposed to it also.

Sincerely,

Gary J. Gasper
Resort Director
Club Destin Resort
1085 Hwy 98 E.
Destin Fl. 32541
850-654-4700 Ext. 420
850-654-2852 Fax
garygasper@clubdestin.com

COMMENT: another one who got a fast approval from the homeowners to speak in  their name!


-----Original Message-----
From: LaCoquilleVillas@aol.com [mailto:LaCoquilleVillas@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 8:05 AM
Subject: HB 1223

Dear Sirs/Madams:

It is my understanding that the items mentioned below are just some of the points included in HB 1223: 2 year term limits, criminal background checks on ALL potential candidates for the Board at $200.00 apiece per report, majority approval for ANY special assessment even for needed maintenance and repairs....

Whomever is thinking these things up has way to much time on their hands and has no understanding of the real workings of Community Associations i.e. Condominiums, Cooperatives, Home Owners Associations, etc., and the Democratic process. 

Although there may be some good thoughts in HB 1223 in its current form and its intent I am opposed to it. Community Associations will be adversely affected in the way they are run, and property values (Owners investments) will suffer. It is a bad piece of legislation.

John Morgan

La Coquille Villas, Inc.
John Morgan, VP/General Manager
100 Evans Lane
Manalapan, FL 33462
561.586.4811
561.586.0323 fax


-----Original Message-----
From: Lakehouse875@aol.com [mailto:Lakehouse875@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 2:25 PM

Subject: HB 1223

Please be advised that the Board of Directors at Lake House South Association, Inc., strongly oppose the passing of HB 1223, in its current form.

Finding enough people interested in the work involved in governing as association is hard enough.  Adding a criminal background check and the fee to go along with it would further deter interest.  In addition, a special election for a needed maintenance problem not budgeted for, could cause undue hardships in the case of and a/c problem or domestic water pump problem, etc.

We are sure the House will understand this and rule accordingly. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Cotecondo@aol.com [mailto:Cotecondo@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:08 PM
Subject: HB1223 and SB2498

To All Who Represent My Interests:

       If you do represent my interest, I urge you to stop playing games with the condominium operation and with my livelihood.  Imposing such restrictions on owners and those who are willing to take on the task of serving the Associations on the Board is ludicrous. Additionally, requiring 3 bids on legal firms and managers is suggesting that we, who are independent licensed managers, would be subject to an outside, possibly less qualified, individual or firm, taking our job just because of price.  Plus the turnover of management within our group of managers would be unsettling to the continuity of an Association.  There are years when the Association is involved in ongoing projects that require some history or knowledge of those projects in order to see them to successful completion. I have 28 years of experience in my area and intend to stay with this until retirement.  These changes would be me at great risk.  Please think about what you are doing.  You don't understand the whole picture and cannot possibly believe what you are considering is valid.  
Lin Sommers
CBA  #8744 


I guess we have heard it all! It was not surprising that most all of the opponents are some kind of service-provider - like attorneys - and/or current board members. They seem to be the same kind of board members who use association funds to pay for Community Association Institute membership etc., money then being used to fight consumer-friendly legislation. Do they tell their members what their dues are being used for? I personally doubt it!
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