An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.  

Published November 30, 2019


It’s one thing what the Florida Legislature wants to achieve when creating the wording of a bill, but it’s another what the arbitrators of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes comes up with. I was always under the impression that these arbitrators are supposed to follow the laws as created by the Florida Legislature, and not come up with their own interpretations what’s right or wrong.


Since the Florida Legislature passed HB 1237 in 2017, trying to limit persons to serve more than eight (8) consecutive years on the board, the fight over term-limits is on.


It seems that everybody offered a different interpretation of what the wording of this bill was supposed to mean. And since there was obviously no common ground interpreting the bill, the Florida legislature made in 2018 a second attempt to clarify the meaning of the amended term-limits provisions in the bill. HB 841 changed again the wording of FS 718.112(2)(d)2., but clearly failed to do much better in clarifying what the legislature really tried to achieve.  There is obviously nothing clear and easy to understand in this term-limits provision.


And then comes the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes and makes lives for condo-owners even more complicated than it already is. It is amazing what some of their attorneys, most of them get paid less than lawyers pay their secretaries, come up with. But what to expect from attorneys who feel that they should be Supreme Court judges, but ended up as Division arbitrators. They just love to put their own spin on these amended provisions, hoping to confuse not only condo-owners but as well specialized attorneys in private practice.


Just read the SUMMARY FINAL ORDER of arbitrator Glenn Lang in the case of Glanz v. Hidden Lake of Manatee Owners Association, Inc.


You think the statutes are complicated to understanding? Nothing compared to this ruling. The arbitrator spins his own ideas around and comes up with an even different interpretation.


No wonder that the Florida BAR and many specialized attorneys are trying to push a bill eliminating the arbitration section of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. As good as arbitration normally is – short and sweet and less costly than court procedure – as bad is the arbitration of these Division arbitrators.


But I still think that arbitration is a good way to settle legal disputes. And instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater -- meaning eliminating arbitration altogether – we should consider hiring some much better competent attorneys, willing to follow the written law instead of trying to “read between the lines.” There is enough money in the Condo Trust Fund to pay these arbitrators decent wages so we are not having to deal with attorneys nobody else wants to hire.


Enforcing the laws should not only be left to people who can afford it. LAW should not be determined by being RICH or POOR!