Condo Law

ISSUE: Abusive condo boards elicit complaints.

Editorial Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
Posted August 20 2005


There's little doubt that Florida's homeowner and condominium associations could use a crash course in conflict resolution.

There are too many associations that are run by inexperienced and unprofessional officers. The state's condo board ombudsman has released a report indicating that the majority of the 4,000 complaints in a recent three-month period dealt with problematic directors.

The condo ombudsman, Virgil Rizzo, says he would like to have a decisive role in dealing with problems. But short of swinging a "baseball bat" at malcontents, he has mostly been limited to educating folks.

Education, however, is not a bad thing. Potential conflicts could be diminished if more people read by-laws and lived up to them.

Many associations are also inhabited by unit owners who didn't bother to read the rules before moving in and now refuse to abide by them, or who simply feel they are above regulations they dislike. They, too, need an education.

That said, the Legislature created the ombudsman's position and the governor appointed Rizzo. It ought to listen to what he has to say, and improvements he might suggest.

It's important to develop mechanisms and processes to settle association disputes before they turn into court battles. It's equally important that Tallahassee create effective mechanisms to resolve disagreements, rather than place further burdens on associations, which are financed by homeowners.

So far, that magic formula has eluded lawmakers. Whatever measures Tallahassee enacts, it must take into account that associations come in all shapes and sizes, and one-size-fits-all policies don't work.

BOTTOM LINE: Reforms must be effective, and not place unnecessary burdens on association members.

Contact the condo ombudsman in Tallahassee at 850-922-7671 or by e-mail at [email protected]. His office at 1400 W. Commercial Blvd., Tamarac, should open in about two weeks with a local telephone number.