Article Courtesy of The Ledger
By Mike Ferguson
Published October 23, 2017
POINCIANA – Homeowners’ association dues are rising in Poinciana and litigation
is to blame.
That’s according to Fernando Dominguez, senior vice president of FirstService
Residential, which is an association management company hired by the Association
of Poinciana Villages.
“The legal costs to the association have skyrocketed over the last three years,”
Dominguez said. “Due to all the litigation that’s going on, the association has
gone over budget by $650,000 the last three years.”
Dominguez said legal fees have actually been $860,000 over budget the last three
years, but APV has been able to recover about $210,000 in legal costs. Residents
will see an increase of almost 10 percent annually as dues go from $252 per year
to $276 – an increase of $2 per month.
APV is a community of about 27,000 homes that spans parts of Polk and Osceola
counties. The community is broken up into nine villages with each village
represented by a five-member board. One member from each village board is
selected to serve on the APV master board.
Recent litigation against AVP has come from residents Martin Negron, Peter
Jolly, Victor Destremps and Annette Brown-Best. The cases dispute the election
practices of APV with the claim that the community’s developer, AV Homes,
manipulates vote counts for unplatted lots to maintain control over the
Negron won an arbitration case brought before the Department of Business and
Professional Regulation in June, but AV Homes, more commonly referred to as
Avatar, sued APV in circuit court to get maximum density votes. Jolly, Destremps
and Brown-Best currently have a circuit court case pending against APV that
alleges the HOA violated the terms of the 1985 agreement.
“If they wouldn’t keep protecting Avatar’s right to control everything, they
wouldn’t have legal fees,” said Keith Laytham, a spokesman for the civic
nonprofit Friends of Poinciana Villages. “They wouldn’t be being sued by these
homeowners. Avatar doesn’t pay a nickel to this community.”
APV was also forced to file an injunction against Jolly and Destremps, former
village board members, in 2015 after the two men took $1.6 million from the HOA
after hours and placed it into accounts only they had access to. APV was granted
the injunction and later recovered the money.
Laytham, who lives in Solivita just outside of the villages, said the initial
push was to increase costs by 15 percent, but it was reduced to just below 10
percent because of cuts to renovations at the Poinciana Community Center and
Boys and Girls Club.
Dominguez said it would be fair to say that the residents choosing to sue APV
were responsible for passing the cost on to all residents across the community.
APV has budgeted $500,000 for legal fees for this fiscal year. Laytham said the
homeowners that he’s talked to are upset about the increase, but more because of
principle than the financial implications.
“I think they’re upset, because it’s a slap in the face,” Laytham said. “What
FOPV does take exception to is being blamed for the increase. (APV carries)
insurance against lawsuits. How come the insurance isn’t paying for these