Opinion By Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc
July 20, 2013
all know that there are always some people who do not like new laws
implemented by the Florida legislature. That's just the way life
despite the fact that H7119
found the consensus of most all interested parties, there are obviously a
few board members that are unhappy about this law. Obviously they don't
like consumer protections and are part of a group of board members who
rather want association boards to be equipped with dictatorial powers
founded criticism is always welcome, but when the arguments in opposition
of such a bill lacks common sense, the folks voicing these reasons just
make a laughing stock out of themselves.
exactly the case in a recently published article in the local section of
the Sun Sentinel. Reporter Ben Wolford published an article under the
headline "New rules irk HOA
boards." In his article Wolford quotes Patti Lynn,
President of the Broward Coalition, and Myrna Rosoff, president of the
Coalition of West Boynton Residential Associations. According to members
of these associations these board members never asked the membership if
they should oppose this legislation in the name of these organizations
they preside over. One of the other board members even publicly admonished
them for deciding to oppose this bill without prior approval of the
guess that explains as well why these "presidents" are against
transparency and why they are so determined to keep dictatorial powers for
HOA board intact.
really had to laugh about their arguments, especially the ones Patti Lynn
used. It's really interesting to know that contractors and service
providers down South base their bids on the budget, not on the size of
lawns or lakes or the difficulty of the job. And just remember: The
wording in H7119
regarding the registering requirements just asks for: " 5. Total
amount of revenues and expenses from the associationís annual budget."
According to Patti Lynn HOAs now lose their "competitive edge"
if contractors know the total amount of revenues and expenses of the
Myrna Rosoff thinks that "they [the legislature] are getting ready to milk a cash
cow." Considering that lowering the annual fees for all
owners (including condo owners) involved to $2 annually was always part of
the debate, this argument doesn't really make sense, especially since the
provisions in this year's bill don't ask for a dime from associations.
Registering the HOA is FREE OF CHARGE.
his article Wolford writes: "Such cases fuel a trope among disgruntled residents: that condo and homeowners
association board members are corrupt and undemocratic. The large majority of homeowners associations, however, are not felons or aspiring
don't think anybody ever claimed that a large majority of homeowners
associations (I guess he meant to say board members) are felons or
all know that the majority of our population aren't bank robbers.
Nevertheless, we have laws in place against bank robbers and laws that
punish them if they are caught! Transparency and the threat of punishment
will deter quite a few "amateur thieves" in my opinion.
guess these arguments explain even more why the Florida legislature was so
willing to add "education of board members" to the list
of much needed HOA reforms. Incompetent and uneducated board members can
get very costly for homeowners who are a part of a mandatory homeowners'
association. Board members should have a basic knowledge of what's
required to do to efficiently run an association. Volunteers are always
needed, but they shouldn't be dictators who fight the request for
New rules irk HOA boards
Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
July 20, 2013
Homeowners associations are used to making rules, but many are displeased by a
new set of regulations being imposed on them.
"As the Broward Coalition president, I think this is abominable," said Patti Lynn, who
heads a roundtable of homeowners and condominium association boards in Broward
A new law took effect this month, formerly known as H7119, that adds transparency
and accountability to homeowners associations, those little-regulated, quasi
governmental boards that assess fees and set regulations for communities of
When the law was moving through the state legislature earlier this year, it was
controversial. And some of the most controversial aspects survived into the Florida
statutes, including one that requires association boards to submit financial
information to the state.
For the most part, the law makes regulations for homeowners associations more like
those already in place for condominium associations.
"The disputes that arise in HOAs are often very similar to the disputes that arise in
condominiums," said Kenneth S. Direktor, a community association lawyer at Becker
But boards in South Florida said this week they're worried about the cost to comply.
And they fear eventual fees like the $4-per-unit fee the state charges condo boards.
Ostensibly, the fee is to pay for oversight, but in 2008, the state Legislature raided
$10 million from that condo trust fund to plug a budget shortfall.
"I think they are getting ready to milk a cash cow," said Myrna Rosoff, president of the
Coalition of West Boynton Residential Associations.
Meanwhile, the requirement to submit financial documents to the
state has associations worried about losing their competitive edge when hiring contractors for
landscaping or lake cleaning.
"People do not need to know the wealth of any community or the lack of wealth," Lynn
Community members, however, deserve full transparency about how their money is
spent, she said. In her Tamarac community, where she is a board member, "we post
our budget in the clubhouse." The law strengthens transparency requirements.
Another portion of the law boots board members charged with felony theft or
embezzlement of association funds or property. These people are suspended until
they are acquitted or the charges are dropped.
Only one homeowners association president has lost his job over the law. David
Meadows was running the accounts at a small community in Davenport, southwest of
Orlando, even though he had been arrested twice and charged with fraud, grand
larceny and theft.
Meadows resigned just before the new law took effect July 1.
Restrictions on convicted felons already existed for condominium associations. The
condo law also establishes a state ombudsman and requirements that associations
disclose their financial documents to residents.
That law, however, has not been a complete deterrent.
In 2007, Hallandale Beach police charged four people with orchestrating a kickback
scheme that fleeced condo owners out of $3 million. The association president took a
plea that year, but the trial persists for three others.
And just last month police arrested a condo president named Nancy Marquez,
alleging she mixed monthly dues with her own savings and gambled it at the
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Marquez lost her job and faces
charges she stole $148,012 from her neighbors.
Such cases fuel a trope among disgruntled residents: that condo and homeowners
association board members are corrupt and undemocratic.
The large majority of homeowners associations, however, are not felons or aspiring
But most are amateurs. That's why part of te law also provides for training seminars
to teach board members how to properly provide meeting notice, adopt a budget and
put out a competitive bid.