Article Courtesy of The Forum
By Chris Guanche
Published March 24, 2008
As the current session
of the Florida Legislature winds down, more changes are on the way for the
statutes that govern condo associations.
The changes cover several areas of condo management.
One change, coming from the Senate, lowers the amount that condo
associations collect for the state's condo trust fund from $4 per unit to
$2 for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
During the Legislature's earlier rush to cut its budget and find new
sources of revenue, the condo trust fund was one of several funds the
state considered dipping into, but ultimately decided against it.
Lowering the amount of
money that will be poured into the fund raises questions about how the
state will be able to fund programs such as condo education courses, said
Donna Berger, executive director of the Community Advocacy Network, a
division of law firm Katzman & Korr. Berger said she has heard
complaints from condo owners about the current funding level and services
it funds from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and
the condo ombudsman's office.
"I don't know if it's a function of if their powers are limited, or
if it's the funding," Berger said.
Some of those problems may result from complaints being sent to government
agencies that should instead be handled by attorneys, she said.
A lack of enforcement power is one item addressed in a recently passed
House bill from Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami.
The bill provides the DBPR with the authority to investigate complaints
against community association managers, as well as community association
"Increased enforcement is an important step," said Jan
Bergemann, president of Deland-based activist group Cyber Citizens for
"It is now not up to the DBPR to decide what they want [or do not
want] to investigate," he said. "They have to do it."
Another provision prohibits condo owners who are delinquent in paying fees
from serving on association boards.
There are also changes to board member terms, allowing for staggered terms
if permitted by the association's bylaws.
"A lot of community members like staggered terms, and they don't
necessarily want to be dragged out every year to elect an entire
board," Berger said.
Bergemann said having staggered terms creates a more even playing field in
"It's hard to run against an incumbent when they're using the
resources of the association to get re-elected," he said.
The bill also covers an issue that's been controversial in many
associations: the placement of religious objects on exterior doors.
In some associations, conflicts have emerged from the placement of Jewish
mezuzahs on door frames. Now, objects that fall under certain size
restrictions can be placed on doors.