Courtesy of the Jacksonville Times-Union
J. TAYLOR RUSHING
April 1, 2005
TALLAHASSEE -- The state agency
that receives complaints by Floridians in condominiums is responding
too late and too lightly, says a draft copy of an audit triggered by
a couple who live seasonally on Amelia Island.
Florida's Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes,
which regulates the creation, sale and operation of about 1.1
million condo units, closes too many cases beyond deadlines and
prefers weak responses such as sending letters instead of stronger
acts like levying fines. A final version of the audit is expected in
mid-April. As an operational audit, it focused on the division's
policies and performance, not its finances.
The audit was authorized last
June by Sen. Jim King in his former role as Senate president after
criticism of condo associations from throughout the state.
Legislators eventually established an ombudsman's office and passed
two laws to strengthen and safeguard residents' rights.
But it was Steve and Judy Comley
who started it. The retired couple waged a public relations war last
year over the rental rights to their 2,300-square-foot Amelia Island
condo, where they live each winter. The Comleys have been enmeshed
in a nine-year dispute with the association that regulates the unit.
King , R-Jacksonville, said he
hopes the audit helps the division turn a corner.