|Article Courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel.com
By Tal Abbady
Posted April 25 2003
As the legislative session enters its final week, lobbyists are confident they've quashed a bill that would have abolished a licensing requirement for community association managers. Viviana Bovo, an aide to state Rep. Manuel Prieguez -- who is chairman of the House Committee on Regulated Industries and sponsored the bill -- said Thursday the proposal had died in committee.
A Senate version of the bill also was unsuccessful.
As support for preserving the licensing requirement mounted, committee members in the House and Senate were blitzed with e-mails and letters from residents concerned about unlicensed managers wreaking havoc on a community's finances.
The licensing law took effect in 1988 and is meant to protect residents and homeowner association boards from anyone ill-equipped to handle the day-to-day operations of an association or anyone targeting the multi-billion dollar industry for illicit profits or other mismanagement.
"These managers are responsible for billions of dollars in community-association business, and that responsibility shouldn't be left to an unlicensed individual," said Mark Benson of the Fort Myers management firm Bensons Inc. Benson was a key opponent of the bill.
He and other supporters have formed the Florida Community Association Managers Alliance, which will serve as a platform for managers around the state.
Art Bennett, former head of Building Managers International, who helped draft the original licensing law, said the law was needed to provide board members with a manager versed in condominium and homeowner-association law to guide their work.
"Sometimes in these communities you need someone to manage $20 million worth of property. You don't want somebody off the street who doesn't know what the heck he's doing."
Aides to Gov. Jeb Bush had said community-association manager licensing did not serve a critical purpose and that the governor supported abolishing the law in an effort to save money.
"In a tight budget year, this made common sense," said Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre. The governor will revisit the issue next year and may again recommend striking the licensing law from the books, DiPietre said