Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
November 4, 2009
is what is most clear after last week's Sun Sentinel Town Hall Meeting on
Condos & HOAs: Many owners and board members from community associations
across South Florida are frustrated and fearful about finances, foreclosures and
other festering issues.
And there is no denying that there is a need for solutions, and for help from
Approximately 250 people from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties
attended the Oct. 29 event sponsored by the Sun Sentinel and hosted by
Nova Southeastern University in Davie. On. 27, the newspaper also held a Condos
& HOAs online chat, which drew nearly 300 participants who posted about 180
Several key questions emerged over and over again. Many who participated in the
chat and town hall wanted to know what potential reforms lawmakers plan to
consider when they reconvene next year.
"We are caught in a terrible situation," said Diana Correll, of
Deerfield Beach, whose sentiments were typical of many with foreclosure
concerns. "A large number of properties in condo and homeowners
associations have been taken over by banks, residents are just picking up and
leaving their properties along with their commitments, and [there is the] added
problem of people who continue to live in their properties while not paying
For answers, we turned to a panel of local experts: Jan Bergemann, president of
Cyber Citizens for Justice; Donna D. Berger, executive director of Community
Advocacy Network (CAN) and managing partner at Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum; Gary
A. Poliakoff, attorney with Becker & Poliakoff P.A. and professor at Nova
Southeastern University's law school; William Raphan, supervisor of the state
Office of the Condominium Ombudsman in Fort Lauderdale; and State Rep. Julio
What are the insurance requirements for condo owners?
Many voiced concerns about complex and confusing condo and HOA laws and
Here is what you need to know, says Raphan: Unit owners are required to carry
homeowners insurance with property loss assessment coverage of no less than
$2,000 per occurrence, and the association must have an additional named insured
and loss payee. The association requires proof of a currently effective hazard
and liability policy from each owner, and may purchase a policy on behalf of the
owner if he or she does not provide a valid certificate of insurance.
Unfortunately, the statutes suggest associations may purchase an
insurance policy on behalf of a noncompliant owner, but do not say they must do
so, leaving association boards -- and their attorneys -- to figure out what to
do for themselves.
Who will fix foreclosure banking flaws?
Robaina promised, along with other lawmakers in the audience, to clean up this
statute problem and others, including laws related to foreclosure processes.
Many condo owners and homeowners complain that banks are allowed to forestall
foreclosures and skip paying their share of maintenance fees.
Robaina said lawmakers are aware of widespread problems, and they are among
potential reforms to look out for next legislative session. No details yet of
what can be done, but possibilities include requiring banks to pay fees sooner
than the 12 to 18 months it typically takes now to complete a foreclosure.