WHY FLORIDA'S ECONOMY NEEDS A CONSUMER-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION BILL IN 2013
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published November 15, 2012
The real estate market
can we expect retirees and snowbirds to invest their life-savings in
is imperative for the recovery of our economy and the real estate market
that consumer-protection laws must be enacted to give retirees and snowbirds
again an incentive to invest their life-savings into
Nearly 50% of all housing in
According to OPPAGA
No. 10-20, February 2010),
about 2.5 million homes are located within homeowners’ associations in
· Chapter 720 Florida Statutes
governs HOAs, but there is no agency to enforce the laws, no place for the
homeowners to turn to when violations occur. The only remedy for abused
owners is through the court which is out of the financial reach of most
homeowners, especially retirees.
In 2005 a study conducted by
the AARP Public Policy Institute warned about the total lack of
consumer protection in HOAs.
AARP published in July 2006 a BILL
of RIGHTS for HOMEOWNERS in ASSOCIATIONS which made it abundantly clear that owners
living in these HOAs have no protection at all and are an easy target for
abuse, fraud and scams. AARP
pointed out that the best statutes are useless without a tool that
guarantees easy enforcement of laws and rules.
this serious problem doesn’t require tax money or financial incentives.
Creating owner-friendly laws will create more jobs and put
order to achieve this goal it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. The
wording needed to create the necessary consumer protection is already in the
condominium statutes found in Chapter 718 Florida Statutes. Many
surveys conducted among homeowners have shown that owners are willing to pay
for consumer protection -- $4 per unit annually, just like the condo owners
conducted in 2008 more than 93% of 1033 certified respondents favored the
creation of a regulatory agency and were willing to pay the $4 annual fee
needed to finance that endeavor. An estimated income of nearly $10 million
annually would be more than sufficient to create the much needed consumer
are provisions recommended for a solid consumer protection bill:
718.116(1)(b)1.b. + FS 720.3085(2)(c)2.:
· Require homeowners or unit owners to place association assessments into the court registry as they come due during the pendency of any foreclosure action by the association (language from FS 83.60).
authority, responsibility, and duties
of Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes to
FS 720, to provide Regulatory Oversight to homeowners' associations
to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws (language from FS
· Add board election provisions, board member eligibility and education requirements for board members to FS 720 (language from FS 718.112).
of associations to
owners from defunct developers (language from FS 718.301).
Presuit Mediation requirements to FS 718 before court or arbitration
proceedings can commence.
improved consumer protection would restore the badly damaged reputation of
return of retirees and snowbirds to Florida will not only help developers
and contractors, it will as well create new jobs in many other related
industries – and will bring much needed relief to our tax coffers that are
in serious financial distress.
are paying companies lots of our tax dollars to relocate to
How many more good reasons are needed to finally create the foundation for a
Homeowners’ Bill Of Rights?