HOAs consider trust fund payment system

Article Courtesy of The Forum

By Fallan Patterson

Published September 2, 2008


After a six-year battle to pass legislation proposing a $4 fee for homeowners' associations, similar to the one condo boards currently pay, community groups have set up online surveys to tabulate whether homeowners would be willing to pay into a trust fund pay­ment system similar to condos. 


If so, the feedback could pave the way for new legislation that would propose a similar $4 fee for homeowners' associations.


For condos, money comes from the $4 annual fee each unit owner pays the state through his or her association. Depending on the feedback from the new survey system, homeowners may do the same in the future.


Both Cyber Citizens for Justice, an Internet condo activist group, and Community Advocacy Network will now have surveys that members of homeowners' associations can participate in, of which the results will be forwarded to state policymakers before the next session.


The surveys allow association members to voice their concerns about whether they are willing to pay the $4 per year per unit fee toward a fund that would help regulate associations, possibly by adding homeowners' associations to the current condo ombudsman office or by opening another resource specifically for homeowners.


"Presumably, the fees will be used to have the [Depart­ment of Business and Profes­sional Regulation] oversee arbitrations pertaining to certain owner and board disputes, educational material and perhaps an ombudsman," said Donna Berger, managing partner for Katzman Garfinkel and executive director of the Advocacy Network.


The bill that created the condo trust fund was spon­sored by Rep. Julio Robaina, R- Miami. The trust fund helps pay for the condo ombudsman office and was started so that condo owners rather than tax­payers would foot the bill for condo services.


The Cyber Citizens for Jus­tice survey can be accessed on­line at www.ccfj.net. To ensure no one votes more than once, it does not accept anonymous responses.


The Advocacy Network survey can be accessed online at www.canfl.com. It officially closes Aug. 29.


Cyber Citizens for Justice founder Jan Bergemann said surveys need to be better regu­lated.


"How do we know that someone hasn't voted 10 times? If you have an opinion, stand up for it," Bergemann said.


"If [Community Advocacy Network] members want [homeowners' association] regulation and want to pay for it, then that will be on our legislative agenda," Berger said.


Regardless of what advo­cacy groups want, the surveys will be available to allow home­owners' association members to voice their opinion before the next legislative session.


"Condo people pay $4 for the condo trust fund, and we want to have regulation for the

[homeowners' associations] Bergemann said.

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