Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel
April 20, 2005
state's condominium owners aren't being served by the agency that is
supposed to watch out for them, according to a newly released report
by the Legislature's watchdog agency.
State officials on Tuesday lauded the yearlong investigation, which
said the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums & Mobile
Homes takes too long to act on complaints filed by condo owners and
needs to take stronger action against boards that violate condo law.
The state Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government
Accountability also said the division should more frequently use
mediation instead of more-costly arbitration to resolve disputes
between owners and boards.
"It explains what we have known all along, that there are major
problems in the [division] that need to be addressed
immediately," said state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, who
chaired the committee last year that resulted in the investigation.
The report recommends the division issue fines instead of just
warning letters when violations occur. However, since all unit
owners pay fines -- not just directors who violate the law -- the
state would need to hold directors responsible without discouraging
owners from serving on boards.
Robaina is again trying to change condo law during the current
He successfully sponsored a bill in the Legislature last year that
created the position of Florida condo ombudsman.
The ombudsman, Virgil Rizzo of Fort Lauderdale, praised the report
by Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government
"It's right on," he said. "It supports what we've
been saying, that there would be no need for the position of
ombudsman if they did their job."
Rizzo said he is proving it can be done in less time.
"If I can resolve an issue in 48 hours and it takes them a
year, that's a tremendous benefit both to unit owners and the state
of Florida," Rizzo said.
In her response, Diane Carr, secretary of the division's parent
agency, the Department of Business & Professional Regulation,
said the division will show improvement in its upcoming quarterly
Robaina said he would spend the summer working to implement the
Once the division is overhauled, he said he will attempt to have it
also regulate homeowner associations.