State rep wants input on homeowners associations

Article Courtesy of The Charlotte Sun

By Steve Reilly

Published August 2, 2008

 

State Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, wants to hear from residents throughout the state about what they think about homeowners association reform.
 
During the Legislature's last session, Robaina chaired the Select Committee on Condominiums & Homeowner Association Governance that held public meetings in Miami, Tampa and Tallahassee. The committee listened to hundreds of homeowners complain about their treatment by their associations, malfeasance and other mismanagement issues of deed-restricted and other association boards -- as well as exorbitant attorney fees charged to associations.
 
Robaina said the big issue among the complaints was the lack of fiscal accountability of the association boards, as well as the abuse of power by board members.
 
He encourages people to e-mail him their thoughts at julio.robaina@myfloridahouse.gov.  Cyber Citizens for Justice Inc. has also posted a survey on its Web site at www.ccfj.net

While Robaina saw his bill for condominium reform pass during the last legislative session, he is preparing to introduce a bill that will offer similar state oversight that condominium associations now enjoy -- but only if homeowners want those protections.
 
Condominium associations pay $4 per unit for a state-appointed ombudsman, Department of Business and Professional Regulation mediation and other oversight protections for condo owners. However, single-family, deed-restricted and other homeowners associations are basically on their own.

The DBPR does mediate homeowners association disputes; however, homeowners associations pick up the costs for the DBPR's mediation. Kim Jakubaitis, former president of the Deep Creek Section 20 Property Owners Association, knows how expensive the process can be first hand.

Jakubaitis filed a complaint about irregularities in the association's 2004 election that led the DBPR ousting the former board, then seating Jakubaitis and others on the Section 20 board. She also testified before Robaina's committee.

"It ends up expensive for the residents," Jakubaitus said of the arbitration process now. "They end up paying twice."

The $4 or $6 per-unit charge seems a small price to pay for equity for members of an association. One of the reforms she liked to see is the state to require mandatory education of association board members before they take office.

Jakubaitis and others are hoping to have a town hall meeting in December where people can talk about the issues they face within their associations. Robaina will be an invited guest. 

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