Courtesy of Florida Politics
Published January 22, 2022
HB 1033 seeks to keep HOA disputes from reaching the
Floridians who tussle with homeowners associations (HOAs) could soon see a
few more layers of process before anyone gets fined or goes to court under a
bill approved Thursday by the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee.
That panel unanimously advanced HB 1033, seeking to create a state
ombudsman’s office to offer non-binding arbitration in HOA disputes and an
appeals process for HOA fines.
The bill would bring HOA governance more in line with condominium
associations, which already have a state ombudsman’s office to provide
arbitration. The measure would exceed what’s universally available for condo
owners with the proposed new appeals board for homeowners associations.
Rep. Mike Beltran, a Lithia Republican sponsoring the bill, presented it
with the argument that his office receives more complaints about homeowners
association disputes than just about anything.
“People call my law office. People call my legislative office. Before
coronavirus, this was the top concern: HOA disputes,” he added.
The disputes are often personal. Yet without alternatives, people feel they
have to drag them into the courts, clogging courtrooms, Beltran said.
An ombudsman arbitration option — it is just an option in the bill — and an
appeals committee to review fines assessed on homeowners should stop a lot
of litigation, he suggested. And that could save everyone money.
“These disputes often times can get out of hand. People can run up $30,000,
$40,000, $50,000, that’s either going to be borne by the association if the
homeowner prevails. It’s going to be spread among the members. Or it’s going
to be borne by that individual homeowner if they don’t prevail. The purpose
of this is to prevent things from getting to that stage,” Beltran said.
“And so the cost of not doing something is more,” he added.
The cost is an issue — one of several brought up by homeowners association
For condominium owners (and for owners in mobile home parks, timeshares and
other similar shared communities), a state ombudsman’s office is paid for
with a special assessment on all owners. HB 1033 would not do that for the
many millions of homeowners in HOAs. Rather, HB 1033 proposes dipping into
the general fund to pay for the HOA ombudsman office. No estimate has been
worked up yet on what that might cost.
Travis Moore, representing the Community Associations Institute, also
expressed concern that the bill’s proposed five-member HOA appeals board
might be tough to assemble, especially in small communities. In such
communities, even filling an HOA board can be tough, and finding five more
volunteers who are not related to the board members might be too much of a
reach, he offered.
“We have to beg every year to get people to serve on the board,” Moore said
of his own HOA, which he said represents only 24 member homes.
Beltran argued such details can be worked out. But he also suggested that
any HOA that can’t find people for an appeals board perhaps shouldn’t be
fining people in the first place.
While Thursday’s vote was unanimous to move the bill along — onto its next
stop at the Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee — enthusiasm
“I don’t see a need for extra bureaucracy,” offered Rep. Will Robinson, a
On the other hand, Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil declared, “I think it’s a really
good idea, trying to solve some of these disputes without bringing it into
the court system.”
The Senate version is SB 1296 from Republican Sen. Danny Burgess of