Special Report Courtesy of
Reporter Kara Kenney
Published April 1, 2008
The NBC2 Investigators uncovered major discrepancies in
how the state oversees homeowners associations. While the
state has twice as many homeowners associations as condo
associations, they arenít regulated by the state.
Southwest Florida is a
place where homeowners associations are the rule rather
than the exception.
"They are little mini governments if
you will," said Mike Cochran of the Florida Department of Business
and Professional Regulation.
They can tell you what color to paint your
mailbox, how tall to keep your grass, they even take your money.
"I know if I buy a house again it won't
be in a homeowners association," said Suzan Fritze.
To say Fritze is fed up with her homeowners
association is putting it lightly.
"It's just craziness, which I feel
tremendously frustrated by," said Fritze.
Neighbors are fighting about whether or not
to irrigate from nearby ponds.
"There are people who will not speak
to one another, who will not look at one another if you're walking or
driving by," said Fritze.
Fritze isnít alone in her frustration.
"There's no one to say, ĎNo. You
can't do that,í" said Suzanne Soet.
Soet has been battling with her homeowners
association over where she can put her satellite dish.
"They said they were going to fine me
$50 a day until I complied with moving the dish," said Soet.
Soet wrote the Florida Department of
Business and Professional Regulation asking for help. What they got was a
"I couldn't believe it. I said there
has to be some protection for us," said Soet.
The NBC2 Investigators did some digging and
found out there is little protection.
Unlike condo associations, homeowners
associations are virtually unregulated and the state doesn't track
That means if you have an issue with your
HOA you want investigated, your only recourse is to hire an attorney.
"I wish the state would step up to bat
and start protecting homeowners," said Soet.
Why don't they? We took that question to
Mike Cochran, the Director of the Florida Department of Business and
Professional Regulation. He said the agency can only do what the state
"Unlike condominiums, we have no
authority to regulate homeowners associations," said Cochran.
We uncovered the only time the state gets
involved in homeowners associations is in election disputes.
"The lesson there is be sure you know
the rules and regulations before you move in," said Cochran.
The state arbitrated 44 cases in fiscal
year 2007. Four of those were in Southwest Florida.
Suzan Fritze was involved in one of those
four cases, which resulted in her being recalled from the association
Cochran (Division Chief Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes)
(quote): "Make sure you know your rules and regulations before
you move in!"
COMMENT: That's about the most pathetic statement
after Cochran was part of the House Select Committee on Condominium
and Homeowners Association Governance and listened to the testimony
of many homeowners.
don't know if someone could pay me enough to be on a
homeowners association once again," said Fritze.
says homeowners associations are simply becoming too
powerful and the state needs to put a stop to it.
"More needs to be
available. More assistance, more guidance, more help at the
front end," said Fritze.
Faced with budget cuts,
Cochran says regulating homeowners associations would be too
"It would be about $10
million," said Cochran.
The state of Florida has
25,000 condo associations and 50,000 homeowners
Condo residents filed 2482
complaints with the state in 2007, but the state doesn't
track complaints from homeowners associations.