Courtesy of The Forum Publishing Group
December 25, 2007
the 2008 session of the Florida Legislature set to convene on March 4 in
both the Florida House and Senate, activists are wasting no time targeting
condo and homeowners-association issues early.
Although property taxes and insurance are still top priorities for many,
several groups are focusing also on association reform.
Cyber Citizens for Justice, an Internet-based nonprofit group, proposed
reform on term limits for association board members. Term limits would help
reduce kickbacks and embezzlement, as well as provide greater access to an
association's financial documents, said Jan Bergemann, the group's founder.
easiest way to stop the chance for embezzlement and kickbacks is if you
change the [board] directors," Bergemann said. "If you change
every two to three years the people in office, you stop this through the
back door because only the people in charge can take kickbacks."
Bergemann said reform also is necessary for the rules covering community
Some management firms will only have one licensed association manager while
having other unlicensed managers working for them, he said.
More enforcement is necessary, he said, because of a state loophole in which
condo owners cannot file complaints against unlicensed managers or firms.
Some associations choose to hire a CPA to manage their financial affairs
rather than use an association manager, Bergemann said.
"The bad apples among the [association managers] spoil the reputation
of the good ones," he said. "It's at the point where boards are
saying, 'Do we need to hire an [association manager]?'"
Association reform is also on the list of priorities for the nonprofit
One of the group's proposals calls for newly elected board members to
certify that they have read and understand their association's bylaws.
The requirement would eliminate many misunderstandings, said Broward
Coalition President Charlotte Greenbarg.
"A lot of these people just don't know what their own documents
say," Greenbarg said. "They come up with some really cockamamy
decisions when they're meeting as a board because they're misrepresenting
this stuff, or they don't understand because they haven't read [the
Another of the group's proposals would require boards to place items on a
meeting's agenda if they're supported by at least 20 percent of owners.
The group is also proposing associations conduct periodic engineering
evaluations to determine maintenance needs and begin building up reserve
"It's important because people are going to have to know what they have
to pay and what's going to be needed five or 10 years out," Greenbarg
In the interests of transparency, the group is also proposing lobbyists
report on all payments from clients, as well as gifts and contributions.
A related proposal would require elected officials to place stock holdings
into a blind trust when taking office.