Condo unit owners urged to attend upcoming free events

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Joe Kollin

Published January 23, 2008


 Angry that your condo or homeowner association won't let you have a pet? Is the board threatening to foreclose on your home over a $25 debt? Do you think your directors are stealing association money?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes or if you have other concerns then keep the next two weekends open for three free events.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Florida House Select Committee on Condominium & Homeowner Association Governance will hold the first of five statewide public hearings at Broward Community College's south campus, 7200 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. State Rep. Julio Robaina, the Miami Republican who heads the newly created panel, wants to hear from unit owners, especially those who suspect boards are stealing money. Call his office at 305-442-6868 for more information.

Also that day, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Southeast Florida Chapter of the Community Association Institute will hold its Trade Show & Day of Education at the Wynmoor community in Coconut Creek. Danille R. Carroll, the state condo ombudsman, will hold an hourlong discussion starting at 1:30 p.m. on what to do if you suspect your directors are stealing.

For more information, see or call 954-816-0661.

On Feb. 1-2, the Deland-based Cyber Citizens for Justice will hold its National Homeowners Association Conference in Fort Lauderdale and Deerfield Beach.

"It is the first meeting in Florida with national participation organized by owners and for the benefit of homeowners and condo owners nationwide," President Jan Bergemann said. "We feel it is high time for owners to take the initiative instead of having the service providers [such as association attorneys and management companies] decide how we live and what rules regulate our lives and financial welfare."

Cyber Citizens, a volunteer organization formed in 2000 to help rein in the power of boards, has been successful lobbying for new laws.

The Feb. 1 program, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the North Beach Community Center, 3351 NE 33rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, will include a panel discussion with Robaina and Dr. Virgil Rizzo, the state's former condo ombudsman.

Also on the panel will be David Kahne, the Houston lawyer who wrote the AARP's Bill of Rights for unit owners; Mark R. Benson, of Fort Myers, a member of the state Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers; and Marjorie Murray, president of the nonprofit Center for California Homeowner Association Law.

Also speaking will be Maida Genser, of Tamarac, president of Citizens for Pets in Condos.

The Feb. 2 program is 1 to 5 p.m. in the clubhouse at Century Village East, 2400 Century Blvd., Deerfield Beach. Some of the speakers from the previous day will be there, plus attorney Mark Bogen, who writes a weekly Q&A on condo and homeowner association law in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Barry Silver, the Boca Raton attorney who successfully defended a Jupiter homeowner sued by his association for flying an American flag.

Question-and-answer sessions will follow both presentations.

See the group's Web site,, for more information on the conference and driving directions.


Q. Several residents point out their homeowner association documents set term limits for directors but state law doesn't. Can term limits be legal if the law doesn't allow them, they ask.

A. Jean A. Winters, a Boca Raton attorney who represents unit owners, points out both homeowner association and condo association laws are unclear when it comes to restrictions on board membership.

One of the only cases to be reviewed involved a condo. The formal opinion issued by the state Department of Business & Professional Regulation was that an association's restrictions on board membership were illegal because the law's only restriction is that convicted felons can't serve.

Department rulings aren't law, however, and "it will be interesting to see if this or some other restriction is challenged in court," she said.

The bottom line: Until a court decides or the Legislature clarifies the law, it is a matter of interpretation.