Representatives, Ladies and Gentleman,
My name is
Jan Bergemann, and I’m president of CCFJ, a grassroots
organization trying to create legislative reforms regarding
mandatory associations. We
are working with owners, for owners and for the benefit of
owners! I was a
member of the HOA Task Force Governor Jeb Bush created in 2003.
But, with three homeowners opposing ten industry
representatives and two government agency employees voting with
the industry you can imagine that our input was very limited.
We were able to push a few very good reforms, but without
giving owners a simple tool for enforcement of these statutes
even the best laws will not help.
most ridiculous sentence in the existing statutes can be found
in FS 720.302(2):
Legislature recognizes that it is not in the best interest of
homeowners' associations or the individual association members
thereof to create or impose a bureau or other agency of state
government to regulate the affairs of homeowners' associations.
interest of whom: The
attorneys and service providers?
One thing is sure: It’s
definitely not in the best interest of the homeowners!
sentence is long outdated, makes absolutely no sense and should
be the first sentence deleted in a rewrite of FS 720.
In 2004 more than 2.2 million homes were located within
mandatory homeowners’ associations.
That’s a lot of families who depend on statutes that
are only enforceable if you have lots of spare change at your
disposal. If the
legislature finally creates a regulatory agency for HOAs,
combine it with the Condo Division and charge $4 annually for
each home, you will have a huge amount of funds available to
build the Cadillac of regulatory agencies -- with enforcement
and education. Plans
are ready to roll and can be fully implemented within a year!
But the Division has to be revamped and staffed with
people willing to do the work.
I guess you are all aware that we are collecting funds to
sue the Division for failure to do the job – and we have
nearly reached our financial goal.
Considering that most of the donations received for that
purpose were in the $10 - $50 range, you can see how many
unhappy condo owners it took to reach this goal.
Actually, we are waiting for the newly appointed
secretary, hoping to finally see a secretary willing to do the
job required to create a functioning agency that is not giving
our government a black eye!
Otherwise, we will go forward with our lawsuit as
law firm is waiting for our: GO!
Owners need a place to turn to, to get official answers
and a place where arbitration finds fast and inexpensive
I hope you
are aware that many owners paid higher special assessments to
their associations than they paid for property tax and property
insurance together. The
legislature could easily put a stop to financial
mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, and even clear
embezzlement in our associations and stop the financial bleeding
many of our neighbors just can’t afford any longer.
We need enforcement and accountability of the people in
elections are considered the foundation of democracy.
I can assure you that many Banana Republics have fairer
elections than we see in our associations.
Elections in associations are plainly a joke and a
sitting board can stay in power forever, surviving the challenge
of opponents by using holes in the election provisions that are
bigger than the holes in Swiss Cheese.
I’ll give you some examples:
Nominating Committee: The
sitting board appoints a “friendly” nominating committee
that only nominates the sitting board members.
When ballots are sent out, already determining the
outcome of the election, all opposing candidates are told that
they can nominate themselves from the floor.
Too late, because the majority of votes already have been
Another popular method: Fine
opponents and their friends a few days before the annual meting
and declare that they are not eligible to vote or run for office
– “members not in good standing.”
A few checks for monthly dues are “misplaced” and
owners are told at the meeting that they can’t vote since they
are not members in good standing.
Checks are “found” the next day!
And if everything goes wrong for the sitting board, they – or their
attorney – can still declare the meeting closed because of
lack of quorum – even if the room is full of people.
The going explanation:
Sue us if you don’t like it!
are just a few examples of a multitude of tricks to keep the old
board in power. Please
understand that association attorney and the management company
are very interested in keeping the old board in power.
They guarantee continued income!
are seeing abuses on a daily basis.
From levying speeding fines – just based on
observations – to threats and intimidation to blackmail
attorney’s fees out of owners – without being the prevailing
party according to the statutes, we are seeing it all.
Simple record requests can cost a fortune – as you have
heard – and it is not a matter of ability to provide the
records – there are many simple methods available -- it is a
matter of knowing there is nobody willing to force the boards
and management companies to show these records!
the biggest problem for owners: No place to turn for help – or
just plain information. Desperate
owners trying to get simple information are being told by
government agencies: HOAs
are not regulated. Please
contact an attorney for information!
and LULAC (League of
United Latin American Citizens), the two biggest consumer
organizations in our nation, have recognized that HOA reforms
and regulation are necessary.
The AARP published the BILL OF RIGHTS for HOMEOWNERS in ASSOCIATIONS, caused by listening
to the complaints of their members.
This Bill of
Rights is actually a bill template.
With the help of the author of the AARP Bill, David Kahne
and other owner-friendly experts from around the nation, we have
rewritten the Florida HOA statutes, using the proposals of the
AARP Bill to word a bill that follows the guidelines of the
Kahne was guest and main speaker at our HOA +Condo Conference in
on February 2. Kahne
explained the reasoning behind this important bill – important
for the protection of the many families living in mandatory
details would be too complicated and take too much time.
You find our bill proposal at: http://www.ccfjedu.net/HOABILL2008.html
Representatives, please consider that many of your constituents
are looking at you, hoping that you will finally listen to the
owners whose homes are under siege!
We owners need your help!
owners really appreciate your willingness to listen, trying to
help. One owner in
wrote me after last Saturday’s meeting in
: “If I would have
known they really mean business, I would have been there.
But over the time we heard too many promises – and
nothing ever happened!”
In the name of many owners:
Thank you, Representatives, for giving owners some hope
that something will finally happen to stop the abuse, financial
mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, and even clear
embezzlement in our associations.
you for listening to our concerns!
HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ORLANDO -- CYBER CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE, INC.