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

Published August 30, 2010


We have already figured out that S1196 was meant to be a RELIEF ACT. But what nobody told the owners living in Florida's community associations, which supported this ill-advised bill, that it was only a Relief Act for attorneys, community association managers, bankers and DEVELOPERS -- definitely NOT a Relief Act for associations and/or the owners.


Provisions in S1196 make sure that more homeowners lose their homes, more families go bankrupt and more associations fail to be able to pay their bills. The bill just protects the ever-increasing income of all the folks that profit from community associations.


Owners in communities still controlled by developers were enthusiastic when they saw that one provision of the bill contained wording that disallowed developers to levy special assessments:


720.315 Passage of special assessments. Before turnover, the board of directors controlled by the developer may not levy a special assessment unless a majority of the parcel owners other than the developer have approved the special assessment by a majority vote at a duly called special meeting of the membership at which a quorum is present.


But the problem we are seeing with owners is the fact that they often don't understand what the wording means between the lines. Hallelujah -- no more special assessments?


These homeowners shouldn't cheer so fast!

The provision says nothing about raising the dues without owners' approval. And developers were quick to argue: "Yes, we know that we can't levy special assessments without owners' approval, but the lack of wording in regard to raising monthly dues means that the legislators intended to say that developers are allowed to raise the dues -- even if it's sky-high!"


My question to the legislators who so easily gave away the homes of quite a lot of retirees: "How would you like to see your monthly dues raised from $25 a month to $242 a month?"


Quite a few homeowners in Ocala decided to hand the keys over to the developer, who is foreclosing on their homes for unpaid dues after that happened to them.

Developer has residents outraged over maintenance fee jump

Legislators often seem to forget that normal citizens don't have such great retirement packages as legislators do -- paid for from our taxes.


And if all goes wrong, developers can still argue that assessments they are levying are not really "Special Assessments." 


Developer Michael Rich, who still controls the HARBOR HILLS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. in Lady Lake Florida, was outraged when homeowners accused him of levying an unjust special assessment. 




No matter what you call it, homeowners just can't afford all these extra charges. But why should the legislators care as long as the developers can write the big checks for campaign funds and legislators' 527s? Owners and renters don't really contribute to the legislators' funds -- so let's forget about them. They are stupid enough to vote for us anyway!


S1196 turned out to be a RELIEF ACT for community association attorneys, managers, bankers and developers. Homeowners and condo owners got no relief at all. They are forced to pay even more.


Talking about Relief Acts contained in S1196? Next time we can talk about the BANKRUPT GOLF COURSE RELIEF ACT -- see FS 720.31.