WILL COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGERS EVER LEARN?
DRAFTING A CLAIM OF LIEN IS UNLICENSED PRACTICE OF LAW!
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published November 12, 2010
The Florida Supreme Court made it abundantly clear: Drafting a claim of lien by anyone except a licensed attorney is UNLICENSED PRACTICE OF LAW. In its Advisory Opinion issued in 1996 about activities of Community Association Managers [681 So. 2d 1119 (Fla. 1996)] drafting a Claim of Lien and Satisfaction of Claim of Lien is clearly listed as a NO-NO -- meaning it is clearly Unlicensed Practice of Law.
Many cases have been discussed in the media. Nevertheless, it's very tempting to ignore the law -- and managers have been caught red-handed over and over again.
Admittedly, it's financially tempting and it seems easy. But it can seriously backfire -- and can get really expensive for the association. Many association boards forget that the association is liable when things go wrong. If filed falsely or improperly, the association may face a lawsuit for slander of title -- or other possible causes of legal action.
A recent complaint against Loyd Estes Tarver [CAM # 28561], community manager for the ESCADA BLOCK A HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. in Santa Rosa Beach was quickly dealt with by the Florida Bar. The usual CEASE AND DESIST letter was issued by the Florida BAR and CAM Tarver returned the required AFFIDAVIT in a timely manner.
The Florida BAR handled the complaint very professionally. A Cease and Desist letter is standard procedure for first violations.
Quite contrary to the DBPR investigators, who made again a total mess out of the investigation to the complaint that was filed with DBPR. When you see answers from DBPR investigators, the only question unanswered is: "Which one of The Three Stooges really wrote this response letter?"
DBPR investigators obviously cannot see the forest for the trees. How much more proof that a violation occurred can be submitted than an e-mail by the violator admitting his violation? Among the attachments to the filed complaint was the copy of an e-mail sent on May 27, 2009 by CAM Tarver which clearly states: "I have just completed preparation of 11 lien forms to deliver to Cecil for filing."
The really bad part: Tarver continued to violate the Florida laws -- even after he was informed that drafting liens is unlicensed practice of law.
No matter how much proof of wrongdoing was supplied, it wasn't enough for the DBPR investigators. In a LETTER dated August 7, 2009 Freda Harris from DBPR Consumer Services wrote: "Based on the complaint and documentation collected, there is not enough clear evidence to prove that the person you identified in your complaint committed a violation of a licensure requirement. Therefore, we are unable to take any further action."
I'm honestly not sure what more evidence the DBPR investigators were looking for? Maybe they couldn't find Tarver's fingerprints on the copy of the e-mail he sent admitting his violation?
But in case you missed it, Freda Harris was as well the DBPR employee who made the false claim that the decisions about finding probable cause are made by the RCCAM (Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers) at a public meeting. [DBPR KNOWINGLY LIES TO CITIZENS -- IN WRITING!] Nothing is further from the truth! It was just her invention in order to cover up the fact that these decisions were actually being made behind closed doors by some obviously incompetent DBPR employees.
The whole system is a joke -- and it is broken.
And Florida's citizens pay the price!