HOMEOWNERS DEMAND REFORMS AND ENFORCEMENT
CCFJ TOWN HALL MEETING IN PORT CHARLOTTE
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published December 8, 2008
Nearly 300 owners attended the CCFJ Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, December 6, 2008 in Punta Gorda in the meeting hall of the Lutheran Church of the Cross. Even locals were surprised that so many interested citizens attended the meeting.
A very committed panel listened to the presentations of nearly 40 members of the audience -- from reports of embezzlement to fraud and kickbacks, from dictatorial behavior and harassment to limitations of freedom of speech. Most likely caused by the specifics of this area, many demands were heard for legislative reforms to rein in the power of developers and to increase financial responsibility
It is very obvious that the bad economy clearly highlights the downfall of the association system. Instead of protecting property values -- as promised to interested buyers -- these associations turn more and more into a financial liability for financially responsible homeowners.
Representative Julio Robaina made it very clear that the legislators are keenly aware of the financial problems caused by many foreclosures in these associations. Robaina promised that a bill will be proposed ASAP -- maybe even in a special session called regarding the Florida budget shortfall -- that will deal with serious improvement in Florida's foreclosure laws for homeowners' and condo owners' associations.
A lengthy discussion covered the problem of
protecting association funds against embezzlement and other criminal
mischief. The sad example of the Charlotte
Square Condominiums showed that a lot more needs to be done to
protect the owners' money and to prosecute the criminals. It is not
reasonable to expect that the owners who have already suffered serious
financial losses would be required to pay a special assessment to find out
where their money went, how much money actually "disappeared"
and to pay for legal representation to recover minimum part of their
money. Where is the accountability of the management company that the
owners trusted with their money? A management company that isn't able to
protect the money it was in charge of shouldn't be allowed to stay in
In regards to many questions from the audience Mark
Benson explained that as of January 1, 2009 Community Association
Management firms are to be licensed. That goes as well for developers who
provide management services. With the changes to 468 F.S.
all homeowners don’t have the money to fight for their rights.
The majority of complaints were exactly the same we
heard all over the State of
The dysfunctional DBPR was again target of many
complaints of the citizens. A few speakers claimed it to be the most
A large majority of the attendees -- by show of
hands -- was in favor of a regulatory agency for homeowners' associations and
are willing to pay for it! Representative Julio Robaina made sure that
this question was answered by the people in attendance, because special
interests often accuse him of trying to micromanage
CCFJ Area Representative Kim Jakubaitis made it very
clear what owners hope to see accomplished in the next legislative session
(quote): "We expect the
Representative Paige Kreegel remarked that after
hearing the presentations today he wants to work closely with
Representative Julio Robaina to achieve HOA Reform legislation.
Representative Ken Roberson even went a step further when he promised Representative Julio Robaina that he will definitely "Co-sponsor the HOA Reform Bill."
In his closing remarks State Representative Julio Robaina promised homeowners that"HELP IS ON THE WAY!" He will work very hard to accomplish the goals discussed in the town hall meetings and the proposals made in the CCFJ HOA REFORM SURVEY. "It is really important to protect the welfare of Florida's families living in associations. A HOA reform bill is being written and will be proposed to the Florida legislature!"
As much as we heard positive things in regard to
upcoming reforms, we owners have to be vigilant and make sure that our
voices are heard all the way to
these legislators so that they can help us!