Lawmakers seek to have condo issues addressed

at special legislative session

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Daniel Vasquez

Published December 3, 2009


Two South Florida lawmakers called upon colleagues Wednesday to add condominium issues to a special session of the Florida Legislature, pushing a bill that aims to lift the ailing housing market by helping bulk buyers of condo units.

"I have asked the speaker to consider hearing this bill outside the call of the special session due to the crisis that condos in Florida are experiencing," said Rep. Julio Robaina, R- Miami. "Waiting until regular session will mean the demise of many more condominiums in Florida."

The regular session begins in March and even if lawmakers pass the bill quickly, and it's signed into law, it might not become effective until June. "That could mean another half a year before condos see any relief. If we pass this bill during this special session, by the holidays we could see investors buying condos again in bulk in Florida."

Elenor Sobel, D-Hollywood, joined Robaina in the call and is sponsoring a companion bill.

It would take a small political miracle to get any new issue onto the already full agenda of the special session, which begins Thursday and focuses solely on commuter rail issues, observers say. But lawmakers have done it in the past. The House speaker, Senate president or Gov. Charlie Crist could approve procedural changes that would allow the legislation to be heard.

The effort by Robaina and Sobel calls attention to bills they are sponsoring (H.B. 327 and S.B. 840) that would ease liability concerns for investors who want to buy large amounts of units currently on the market at fire-sale prices.

Florida law deems anyone a "developer" who buys more than seven units in a condominium of 70 units or more - or more than five units in a condominium of less than 70 units - and who offers them for sale or lease. The law likely also pins these investors with all of the legal and financial liabilities that come with the title of developer, which many say discourages investment in the state.

Condo advocates say the bill could help, but warn it will take a lot more to help Florida's financially-failing condo and home owner communities.

"It makes sense to get these issues on the agenda, but only a little" said Jan Bergemann, president of Cyber Citizens for Justice, a statewide grassroots group representing condo and home owners.

Daniel Vasquez can be reached at or 954-356-4219 (Broward County) or 561-243-6686 (Palm Beach County). His condo column runs every Wednesday in the Local section and at Check out Daniel's Condos & HOAs blog for news, information and tips related to life in community associations at You can also read his consumer column every Monday in Your Money and at