The Saga Of A TINY Florida Homeowners’ Association

An Opinion By Gus Alamo -- a Shareholder in the TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida.

Eagle Lake, Florida

Published August 18, 2020

Shareholders’ rights, DBPR Complaints: Arbitrators’ shortfalls

Is the DBPR’s logo alleging protections of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse assured?

            On February 6, 2017 the Miami-Dade County Grand Jury filed its final report [35 pages] related to the many shortfalls of the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation [DBPR] [pg13-C] in reference to Shareholders' complaints. The report questioned the “perceived lack of“ Enforcement by the DBPR” and biased arbitration rulings. Gov. Rick Scott signed HB1237 & 653 on June 26, 2017 outlawing collusion between management agencies and their cozy affiliation with Florida law firms. What good is a bill if it is ignored?

            In 2018, a TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida elected five minority directors, replacing a recalled 2017 noncompliant Board. The following saga is how some laws are mere suggestions to a DBPR arbitrator! This saga portrays how management agents used HOA financials and slimy lawyers to influence this TINY HOA’s aspirations of seeking justice from the DBPR. This saga depicts a biased DBPR arbitrator with a dubious history and how a biased arbitration affected this TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida. This arbitrator was immortalized by a few write-ups on Cyber Citizens for Justice, Inc. [Florida edition].

            Unfortunately, in Florida, unless you’re rich and able to hire top gun lawyers, hope of justice is limited! In that TINY HOA three non-compliant recalled members hired a very expensive management firm that was affiliated with very expensive lawyers. Together, that alliance colluded and ran a faux elections, filed improper forms with the DBPR and fraudulently portrayed themselves “the Board”  on paper.

            Florida Statutes 720.306(9)a / 720.306(9)c mandate that HOA’s must file a formal complaint with the DBPR for fraudulent elections and any false filings with the DBPR. In this TINY HOA the three opposing members were coveted and protected by a DBPR arbitrator, a friendly management lawyer and their manipulation of a   system that needs major change and reform. After reading on the Cyber Citizen’s for Justice web site, did we find out about said DBPR arbitrators’ long reputation of nonsensical rulings favoring one connected side and not in favor of Shareholders!

             This author currently learned that said Arbitrator is no longer with the DBPR. It is unforgivable the     damage and financial cost done to this TINY HOA community. Said arbitrator sat on our HOA complaint for four months, after dishing out a $200 check to the DBPR, and a lengthy 10 page complaint. Our TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida, sat quietly and obediently in anticipation of an honest response to our concerns. That DBPR Arbitrator mailed her response with a “Final Order of Dismissal” to our complainant! There was NOT a PEEP from her and never asked for any clarifications of the facts. DBPR Arbitrator unilaterally dismissed our  complaint without a single phone call. It was clear that said arbitrator did not read one sentence in the TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida’s complaint!

             Baffled by that arbitrators arbitrary dismissal we noticed she used obsolete and irrelevant data that was not in the original complaint. Dismayed by that DBPR arbitrators’ none-responsive and biased decision, we asked for an investigation by the DBPR’s A.G. The arbitrator admitted that this was an election dispute but cited outdated cases none the less! The arbitrator was so confused that she cited nonexistent elections and the wrong parties. Arbitrators’ Order of Dismissal ignored the illegal and improper filings by management agents with the DBPR and the required filing rules mandated by the DBPR. Said DBPR arbitrators’ Order primarily ignored the actual facts in order to achieve an improper and biased outcome. It took her four months to realize the biased wording to favor management, in her unfair delay to her unorthodox decision!

            The potential damage to the Shareholders in this TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida was to mostly older, retirees and minorities that could not afford the high-end legal defense fees to right a wrong         perpetrated by a DBPR Arbitrator. This author is concerned because Shareholders are often stopped from having their day in court because they cannot afford to pay lawyers. Said arbitrator probably knew that Shareholders are often boxed in by legal chicanery. The Miami-Dade County Grand Jury findings realized that Shareholders’ only remedy for justice was to implore the Florida DBPR to honestly investigate, seek answers and rely on the fair application of the Florida Statues. Otherwise Shareholders’ have no hope for justice. The TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida merely asked that the DBPR arbitrators’ biased rulings be investigated and not be ignored by DBPR investigators! The Grand Jury and Florida Statutes noted that HOA Shareholders’ should have protections from the  manipulation of rouge management agents, shielded by big gun lawyers!

            That TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida requested that the Florida DBPR OIG look into that   arbitrators’ biased Order! That request fell on deaf ears. We thought that the DBPR should help determine the  legitimacy of litigants’ that often file doctored documents with the DBPR! It is a fact that the DBPR allows the    filings of forms [true or false] to be accepted willy-nilly without question. All cases should be investigated honestly, be decided fairly and conducted without bias. Unscrupulous Florida management firms aided by their big time  lawyers, survive by twisting and ignoring lawful Florida Statutes and By-laws made to protect all citizens!

            Unfortunately as suggested in the Miami-Dade County report, change in the DBPR is still needed.        The DBPR continues to protect arbitrators’ that too often may not side with the legitimate concerns of TINY HOA’s in favor of powerful lawyers and Management agencies. This TINY HOA in the middle of Florida has not recovered from this sad saga and encounter. The fraud waste and abuse has not been investigated and unwanted management clings to power over the TINY HOA in the middle of sunny Florida.

            Maybe this year [2020] the DBPR will be more sympathetic to Florida Shareholders? 

Letter to Director Kevin Stanfield Florida Division of Condominiums, Timeshares & Mobile Homes