Published February 11, 2008
By Jan Bergemann
Saturday, February 2, Jeff Chester,
COOCVE Recreation Committee Chairman, welcomed the crowd of estimated 300
owners and board members to Century Village East.
Milsted, Associate State Director of Florida State Office of
the AARP, explained that the obvious need for public protection,
especially for the many elderly folks living in mandatory associations,
had caused the AARP Public Policy Institute to commission
Esq. (TX) is a well-known attorney from
Bergemann, President of CCFJ, Inc., presented
Jan Bergemann, President of CCFJ, Inc., presentedBILLS that are being introduced for the upcoming legislative session and talked especially about the rewritten HOA BILL that creates many necessary changes to protect owners against financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending and even clear embezzlement!
Val Lucier, Dr. Rizzo’s Chief Election Monitor and author of the educational book "Condo Board Election Revolt – How Florida’s First Condo Ombudsman Became A 500-Pound Gorilla", discussed the problems of association elections and the need for closing serious loopholes in the election process. His experience showed that existing procedures create an environment conducive and vulnerable to election fraud and or other election irregularities.
introduced the "500-Pound Gorilla" --
The directors and owners are seeking help from the State of
Legislature must enact laws, not only to assist condominium owners in the
proper operation of their associations, but also to provide uniformity and
clarity regarding specific condominium issues.
are laws that must be enacted.
laws have been drafted and forwarded by CCFJ for presentation to
If enacted, the proposed legislation will provide a clear understanding in regard to the operation of condominium business and the handling of corporate records, which would include requirement of a periodic audit of the corporate infrastructure.
talked about dedication to reform community association statutes over the
last five years and thanked the people in attendance for their role in
pushing legislative reforms. Representative
Robaina offered a legislative outlook on the issues raised, along
with suggestions for resolutions by proposed legislation.
association boards point out the need for a war for democracy right
Mark Benson presented proposed amendments to 468 Part VIII F.S. concerning licensure of Community Association Managers, as recommended by the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers. It includes licensure of management companies, the removal of the small association exemption, clarifies that association members may serve on the Council, changes the Council to a Board, prohibits licensure of violators of licensing law, and creates improvement in education.
Shawn Boehringer, Esq. runs the Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. and deals with liens and foreclosures, especially those involving elderly citizens. He talked about the necessity of revamping consumer protection against predatory practices of liens and foreclosures which especially hurt the elderly on a fixed income and low-income families who are being hit by outrageous legal bills for small amounts of unpaid dues. In order to strengthen consumer protection, Boehringer offered a rewrite of FS 718.116. The amendments to FS 718.116 would create some necessary protection, but wouldn't help deadbeats!
Mark Bogen, Esq., the Legal Columnist for the Sun-Sentinel in
Shu Bartholomew (VA),
the well-known Radio Host of "On
The Commons" that has guests from all over the nation every
Saturday at 2:00 PM, discussed the association issues sweeping our
country. Since she talks with all kinds of people -- attorneys,
managers and owners from both sides of the fence -- she sees what's
going on nationwide. In short: The problem is all over the same and so far
legislatures have made only a few attempts to protect owners from
Joe Gorman, President of the
Property Owners' Association of The Villages, Inc. in Central
Florida, discussed the serious issue of
Districts -- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." CDDs are another
form of widely unregulated, but mandatory associations with many
flaws. Gorman pointed out that there are now more than 350 CDDs in
Potential buyers are often not aware of the extra
outrageous cost that has to be paid by the owner -- added to the property
tax bill. Therefore, his biggest request to the
Maida Genser, President of Citizens for Pets in Condos, Inc., discussed the necessity of finally adding legislative regulations to allow EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS in mandatory associations. This demand is widely supported by the public, as shown by more than 17,000 signed petitions supporting this bill. These petitions were collected by volunteers -- an immense undertaking. Especially many of our elderly neighbors who have lost their life-long partners would very much benefit from this legislation. We are seeing too many expensive court battles fought over small animals -- court battles many of our neighbors in need cannot afford.
Dr. David I. Goldenberg, author of the book "How to Protect Your HOA or Cond-Dough" , discussed his ideas on How to Stimulate and Complement Legislative Change for HOAs and Condos. He suggests that communities amend the associations’ governing documents. His four letters for success: ORRA -- O for organize, R for recall your board, R for replace the ousted directors with good people, and A for amend your documents.
Representative Julio Robaina summarized his impressions about the conference and gave the owners in the audience and all over Florida a clear message: "Contact your local legislators! Let them know what you want and what you need! They need to hear from you!"
In closing words Bergemann appealed to the owners to unite and organize. Only in numbers is our strength since we will never be able to outspend the "industry" in Tallahassee.
Real fixes for
Property Tax and Property Insurance need to be enacted to revive our
“dead” economy. Admittedly,
real fixes will require hard work!
the way our associations are regulated is an important issue. We need
bills enacted that will finally stop the financial mismanagement,
uncontrolled spending and even clear embezzlement! Many owners
paid much higher special assessments to their associations than they paid
for property insurance and property tax together!
Now start to help yourself by being part of the solution, not part of the problem!
we can achieve our goals.
PLEASE JOIN OUR EFFORTS!
It was refreshing to see that a four-hour program discussing the issues at hand could be interesting without talking about all the horror stories and without all the negativity that normally surround these town hall meetings. The hearings of the House Select Committee on Condominium & Homeowner Governance in Pembroke Pines and Miami Beach showed the desperate need to enact strong association bills -- with teeth -- to protect the welfare of Florida's homeowners and condo owners.
The two-day event in Broward County was a very positive conference with very educational presentations, aimed to help understand the need for owners to be educated on the subject that deals with their HOMES!
response to this conference has been overwhelming.
During the week that followed this event, many persons have
reported that they valued the knowledge gained here.
Now we must all work hard to maintain the momentum generated by
these frank discussions.
FEBRUARY 2008 --- CCFJ, Inc. -- 1156 Tall Oaks Rd. -- DeLand, FL 32720