Courtesy of The Osceola News-Gazette
Published April 11, 2016
Despite their best efforts, local legislators were not
able to pass a bill to the Florida Senate floor regarding relief and
recourse for homeowners against their homeowners associations (HOAs) during
the recently-completed session.
That was the report from Rep. John Cortes (D-Kissimmee) at Tuesday’s Osceola
Legislative Update at Osceola Heritage Park. He’s been working particularly
closely with residents of Poinciana who have made claims of high fees
charged by the their HOA, the Association of Poinciana Villages, on
delinquent accounts and threats of foreclosing on homes to recoup those
He and fellow county representative Mike La Rosa (R-St. Cloud) devoted time
and ink to three separate bills — House Bill 653, 655 and 657. They had the
support of State Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando).
Cortes said Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) also sponsored a Senate bill, but
all died in committees before reaching the floor of either chamber for a
“I’m not a Republican,” he said, noting the majority party in the state
Legislature. “But I’m going to keep pounding away and keep the fight up next
session. Our fight got everyone aware of the problems people have with HOAs
who’ve run away with unchecked power, which should get us more support for
Soto is running for the U.S. House this year, and HOA reform isn’t a federal
case. But, Soto said at Tuesday’s event that Cortes and those left behind to
fight for the cause still have him as an ally.
Soto said HOA reform bills need three components: the ability to count proxy
votes; mandating more time that HOAs must give homeowners prior to accessing
any penalties or taking action, and a dispute resolution system that doesn’t
involve going to court.
That’s just what a resident’s group in Poinciana, the Friends of Poinciana
Villages (FOPV) did in March, filing with Department of Business and
Professional Regulation and accusing developer Avatar of “unethically and
illegally using its control of the Poinciana homeowners association to
contract with itself to force members of the association to financially
support the interests of the developer.”
The complaint accuses the Poinciana HOA of a breach of the APV covenants and
contracts between homeowners and the “developer controlled” APV itself.