New Legislation Affecting Mandatory Homeowners’ Associations
CHANGES TO FLORIDA STATUTES 720
By Jan Bergemann
FS 720 – The
Florida Statutes that regulate homeowners’ associations – has a new
face – and even a few more ways to enforce the rules without creating
huge legal bills. And a provision that allows homeowners to recall a board
– Easy 1-2-3 - without getting involved in a huge lawsuit.
For your information,
Cyber Citizens For Justice was in the forefront to bring about these
The Department of
Business and Professional Regulation has been chosen to mediate and
arbitrate certain disputes. This was the first time since 1995 that we
homeowners saw positive changes to a law that obviously has too many
flaws. It was a step in the right direction. But we homeowners need to keep pushing for more necessary
reforms, especially a government agency with enforcement powers and for
unbiased education. Bills to
that effect are being written and will be filed for the next legislative
session. But the legislators
need to hear our unified voice --
the voice of their constituents.
It makes no sense
that some associations spend more than 50% of their annual budgets for
management and legal fees, instead of spending for community maintenance
and beautification, as originally intended.
The work of the HOA
Task Force, created by Governor Jeb Bush in July 2003, submitted bills (SB
1184 + SB 2984) that passed with few changes and were signed by Governor
Bush into law.
good provisions have been enacted, but still not enough to prevent the
many ugly headlines we can daily read in the newspapers.
THE MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE NEW LEGISLATION
of the biggest changes took place in October 2004 by creation of
FS 720.311 – DISPUTE RESOLUTION
chapter was created as an attempt to avoid the outrageous amounts of legal
fees wasted in very dubious lawsuits.
It should give opposing parties now the chance to solve problems by
talking to a referee, called “mediator” or “arbitrator”!
But it will only work if common sense is used and people are
willing to listen to reason.
The DBPR can now be
petitioned to mediate or arbitrate the following disputes:
All of these changes
are a good step in the right direction, but we are far from a feasible
solution for all the problems debated.
Costly legal arguments will continue until a powerful government
agency properly regulates homeowners’ associations.
The attorneys have
for many years written the book on association law.
Just look at the endless number of lawsuits filed and legal fees
spent! It is obvious that the
attorneys’ primary interest was filling their own bank accounts -- not looking
out for the welfare of the homeowners.
This has to change
finally if we homeowners want to live in a pleasant and peaceful
neighborhood! We need laws
that help us to live in harmony with our neighbors, not fighting each
Attorneys all over
Florida criticize the new HOA statutes and blame the legislators for
creating confusion. They like
to forget that this bill was actually written by their colleagues,
attorneys of the real estate section of the Florida Bar.
This law is far from
perfect. New bills to further
improve the flawed system are being written.
We homeowners need to work together to improve that system, so it
preserves our welfare, rather than contributes to our financial demise.
We homeowners need to
speak out in Tallahassee on our own behalf.
Like a legislator just said at our Annual Meeting in Ocala, Florida
on November 19: “Change
happens in government when people stand up and speak up!”
This old motto goes as well for HOMEOWNERS:
“UNITED WE STAND!”
Go to CCFJ website and join in fighting this just