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

Published JANUARY 1, 2010


Everybody you meet and talk to in the next few days will wish you a "HAPPY NEW YEAR!"


That's definitely a nice tradition and they most likely mean well, but will it really be a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010 for all the folks who own property in one of Florida's mandatory community associations?


You have seen in the last few days a lot of favorable predictions in the media. But have you checked who the folks are who make these predictions?

Check again and you will quickly realize that they are all folks who have something to gain by making positive predictions -- or are even paid to sound "positive."


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here is my prediction: 

The year 2010 will be a lot worse than the year 2009, and -- as we all know -- the past year was bad enough. 


We saw associations go bankrupt.  We saw associations fold their business.  We saw buildings condemned due to non-payment of utility bills.  We saw associations where up to 70% of all homeowners failed to pay their dues.  We saw associations more than double their maintenance fees -- not even talking about all the special assessments that were levied -- in order to cover budget shortfalls.


Do you think that was bad? Wait for 2010!


Let's face it: The economy will not get any better here in Florida -- how could it? -- and the much needed flow of retirees moving to Florida has come to a screeching HALT: The PONZI scheme called “Florida Growth” has finally collapsed!

The cost of living will continue to go up. High property insurance premiums and even higher property taxes will definitely not be an incentive for anybody to move to The Sunshine State. We may still see the sunshine in 2010, but otherwise the outlook is pretty bleak!


Why do I think that the problems for community associations will increase?


Many associations used their reserve funds -- violation of statutes or not -- to stay alive.  Many owners used up their life savings to pay for the ever increasing dues and special assessments.  More homes will be foreclosed on, creating even bigger budget shortfalls in these associations.  More and more uninhabited homes and condo units will remain empty, because the owners plainly die -- we are the state with the oldest median age in the nation -- and no new buyers (new retirees) will come to buy their dream homes in The Sunshine State.  More developers will go broke, leaving more homeowners stranded in unfinished communities with huge bulk contracts to be paid.


And since the apathy among homeowners and condo owners is so widespread, the chances that the needed reform bills will pass are pretty slim. Too many folks still haven't realized how serious the situation actually is and that they could lose their homes even if they pay all the dues and assessments they are asked to pay!


Actually, here are a few options to deal with this disaster:

  1. You can sit in your home and pretend that all these problems will not affect you.

  2. You can continue to whine and complain about your misery without really doing anything.

  3. You can move out of Florida , if you are able to sell your current home.

  4. You can continue to donate association funds to CALL and CAN for lobbying purposes, giving you an excuse for not really doing anything but wasting association funds.

Or you can choose to take more constructive steps to help yourself and your neighbors:

  1. You can wait until November -- if your finances allow you to do that -- and vote for legislators willing to represent their constituents and not special interest. 

  2. You can join the efforts of CCFJ and help fellow owners lobbying for owners' interests.

  3. You can organize your neighbors and march with them to the local offices of your state legislators to demand reforms. Your legislators are the ones able to enact the necessary legislative reforms. Don't know who they are?  Send e-mail to info@ccfj.net with ZIP+4 or the exact name of your association.

No matter what you decide to do, the time is long past when you can afford to sit on the sidelines and hope that others will do your work for you.


Face the fact that you have been lured under false pretenses into community associations that may well bankrupt you and/or may make you lose your home. The statutes regulating community associations in Florida are detrimental to your financial health.


In 2010 property owners living in mandatory community associations have only two options: 

Give up -- or fight for your home and your financial sanity!