When homeowners battle their associations

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

Published July 7, 2008

All over Florida homeowners battle their associations, spending millions of dollars in legal fees, without ever really winning the war. In these battles there are no winners – only losers! Whatever happens in the end – the homeowners always pay!

Estimated 2.4 million homes in Florida are located within mandatory homeowners’ associations. But the owners living in these associations are treated by the Florida legislature like the stepchildren of our society.

Each year legislators add some more unenforceable provisions. Florida has lengthy statutes (FS 720) to regulate these associations, but they really don’t regulate anything. The best laws are useless if they are not being enforced.

That was the clear statement of the nine members of the House Select Committee on Condominium & Homeowners Association Governance after holding five (5) meetings in different parts of Florida during Spring 2008. More than 1500 owners attended, more than 200 testified and a wide majority of the owners had nothing good to say about these associations.

Representative Rich Glorioso’s ( R-Plant City ) statement said it all: "It's criminal; it almost appears as if white collar crime has taken over our homeowners' and condo associations! The problem is that nobody is enforcing it. The current law has no teeth. You don't have this kind of condo police or homeowners' association police."

So far so good, but our legislative leaders in Tallahassee had other things in mind. Instead of pushing an owner-friendly HOA reform bill, House leadership decided to push another ill-advised association bill – supported by special interest (H679/S2504). You could call the bill the “ATTORNEYS' FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT.” It contained many more convoluted provisions – badly written and even with legal flaws – but again contained no provisions enabling owners to enforce the laws. The mediation/arbitration provisions were complicated and difficult to understand. The third rewrite in four years – none of them ever worked. Legislators should finally understand that mediation only works if all parties approach the dispute in good faith. That surely is not the case in most homeowners’ association disputes. These are mostly very emotional – families’ homes are at stake. Governor Charlie Crist saw the writing on the wall: He vetoed this ill-advised HOA Bill.

Without enforcement – and not even enforceable election provisions – homeowners are really upset about legislators being unwilling to rein in the abusive associations that have been created by the legislature but not because owners demanded these associations. They were lured into these associations under the false pretense of “protecting property values.” 

Today is difficult to find a newer home to buy that is not part of an association.

Especially considering our bad economy, homeowners need laws that will finally stop the financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending and even clear embezzlement!

State Representative Julio Robaina, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Condominium & Homeowners Association Governance, has pledged to make homeowners’ association reform his top priority for the next legislative session.  During the 2008 legislative session Robaina sponsored an excellent owner-friendly condo bill (H 995) that has already been signed by Governor Charlie Crist into law, effective October 1, 2008.

CCFJ, Inc. will hold again town hall meetings this winter.

The first of these meetings will take place in Port Charlotte on Saturday, December 6, 2008!

Representative Julio Robaina will be one of the panel members of this town hall meeting.

The Homeowners’ Battle Cry For The 2009 Legislative Session:


Homeowners shouldn’t be treated like the stepchildren of our society!