CONDOMINIUM HEARINGS

Thursday, July 27, 2006 -- Jacksonville Beach Council Chambers

CONDO ADVISORY COUNCIL -- 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.

DBPR TOWN HALL MEETING -- 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

July 26, 2006

 

The Condo Advisory Council will hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 27, 2006 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the City of Jacksonville Beach Council Chambers at: 

11 North 3rd Street, Jacksonville Beach, FL

PURPOSE: To receive public input and conduct general business of the Advisory Council.

An agenda was not published on the DBPR Website.

 

Here is a great opportunity for all condo-owners in the greater Jacksonville area to voice their opinion and present your ideas about common problems that need to be changed!

 

Please see announcement in the Jacksonville Times-Union below. It sure gives you an idea about the many problems condo-dwellers are facing!

 

Directly after the meeting of the Condo Advisory Council you can discuss your opinion about the "condo eminent domain bill" -- SB 1556 -- the bill that was vetoed by Governor Bush and some other problems you experience. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation will hold their town hall meeting as directed by Governor Bush!

Governor Bush vetoed the Condo Bill SB 1556/HB 543 and wrote in his VETO LETTER : ".... it is necessary to provide for involuntary terminations of condominiums in the aftermath of catastrophic events, the bill changes the default provision of requiring the consent of all unit-owners for termination in existing law and permits voluntary termination in virtually any circumstance, therefore diminishing security in ownership of private property."

The Governor worded it nicely in his veto letter by stating: "This bill, in its current form, may cause unintended consequences that could deprive condominium unit-owners of their rights to remain in their units without adequate procedural safeguards."

In my opinion, that's the polite version of saying that a hostile take-over would be possible without any protection for the owners, if he would have signed this bill into law. Please read my Public Input and reasons why this bill should have never passed the legislature in the version the Governor had to veto to protect private property rights. This would have been an "eminent domain" bill for Florida's condominiums.

If you want to protect your rights as condo owner to fight a hostile take-over of your home, please go to the meeting the Governor arranged for all of you! Now is the time to speak up -- in your neighborhood. Otherwise, we might see a similar bill sneaking through the legislature -- and nobody minding the store!

In the moment they target older condominiums on valuable beach property. Just ask condo owners in Sarasota, Miami Beach and on Singer Island what it means to fight a hostile take-over and the tricks being used to kick owners, unwilling to sell, out of their homes. Next time it may be YOUR BUILDING being targeted. 

So if you would like to enjoy a peaceful retirement in your own home without fighting a greedy developer, go to the meetings and make your voice heard. It's a lot easier to voice your opinion now than getting involved later in costly litigation.

Now is the time to stop this kind of "hostile take-over" bill to be revived! The Governor gave you an opening to stop this before it escalates. Make good use of this opportunity!


DATE AND TIME: LOCATION:
Thursday, July 27, 2006: 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm (or earlier, if public input is complete) City of Jacksonville Beach Council Chambers: 11 North 3rd Street, Jacksonville Beach, FL

PURPOSE: Town hall meetings to discuss and obtain public input regarding Senate Bill 1556, relating to the termination of condominiums. AGENCY CONTACT PERSON: Carol Windham, Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 1940 North Monroe, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1032. Telephone: 850-488-1631. Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 48 hours before the meeting by contacting Carol Windham, Government Analyst, at 850-488-1631. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency by calling 1-800-955-8771 TDD.


To avoid condo horrors, use our buyer's checklist

Condo conversions can be complex. Read up on them before you buy.

Article Courtesy of the Jacksonville Times-Union On July 16, the Times-Union published a story about The Venetian, a 37-year-old apartment complex turned condominium whose owners have had to deal with extensive plumbing and roofing problems over the last year. The owners are negotiating with the property's developer, Jacksonville-based Montecito Property Co., to remedy the defects, but it took months of complaints and a threat of a lawsuit before a settlement was put on the table. As of Monday, a final agreement had yet to be reached.

Since the story was published, numerous readers in similar situations contacted the Times-Union seeking help and expressing frustration as they recounted the difficulties they have had trying to get the problems in their homes fixed.

Problems mentioned included building code violations, unfinished construction and water intrusion. Many of them said there was no other recourse but to take their case to court; homeowners from at least two condominium conversion communities in Duval County other than The Venetian have already filed suit.

The Times-Union has compiled a list of tips from city and state real estate sources and their contact information for homebuyers, specifically those looking to purchase a condo conversion. There are a few important steps that every consumer can take before and after a purchase agreement is signed.

Q: What are condo conversions?
Buildings that originally were constructed for uses other than residential condominiums. Some condo converters do little more than a cosmetic touch-up to the buildings, typically apartments, before selling the units to consumers. Others completely renovate the complex and replace roofs, plumbing or electrical systems.

Q: What should I look for when buying a condo conversion unit?
Be proactive. Ask questions. Make sure you know what you are buying and what the developer is promising to do - whether it's a rehab of the roofing, electrical, plumbing systems or just a cosmetic touch-up. And get everything in writing: Verbal agreements don't count.

Q: Where can I get more information about the developer? The Internet is a good source of information. Complaints filed against the developer or the property can be found on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Web site at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling (850) 487-1395. The city of Jacksonville's building inspection Web site also lists violations and complaints. Go to Jacksonville.com, keyword: inspect. For more information about city building permits, call (904) 630-1100.

Q: What should I do once I sign a contract to buy a condo conversion unit?
Review your purchase agreement and condo documents. Florida law gives buyers of condo conversions a 15-day rescission period after signing a contract to review associated documents, which includes a property inspection report. That report, which is required by the state, will describe existing building conditions and estimate the remaining life of certain structural components like roofing, plumbing and electrical systems. Condo conversions are not new products, and you should treat your purchase like any resale purchase. Review warranty information, if any.

You might want to have your own professional engineer or home inspector review the documents. Before signing a contract, ask the developer if it is possible to bring a private home inspector to the final walk-through, and ask whether the inspector's findings will be considered upon closing. It will be up to the seller what is allowed, but get those issues cleared up in writing before signing. A buyer can get a full refund if he or she changes her mind within the 15 days. After 15 days, the contract becomes binding.

Q: What can I do before closing the sale?
Prior to closing, buyers have a final opportunity to walk through the property and document things the developer will need to complete in a reasonable amount of time. Often, those things will not be completed before closing. That list of unfinished items can be brought to the closing table, added to the contract and signed by both parties. Try to get a specific deadline for which those issues will be taken care of - otherwise, it's your word against theirs if the work is not done.

Q: What happens when the condominium is transferred to the homeowners association?
Associations should conduct an independent inspection of the property upon taking control of the condominium from the developer. This inspection report can serve as a baseline comparison for problems that may occur in the future. Although it is not required, for older properties, it might be worth having a plumber take a video and photos of the plumbing system beneath the property.

Q: Where can I file a complaint?
First, contact your developer or homeowners association, depending on who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the condominium. Talk to your neighbors. If you're having problems communicating with your property manager, you might not be the only one. And, if it comes to litigation, it is usually less costly and more convincing to file one lawsuit as opposed to multiple suits.

And get everything in writing. Make requests in writing, and ask to have responses or promises in writing. If you can't, take detailed notes of the conversation.

Complaints can be filed with the city, the State Attorney's Office or with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

In Jacksonville, consumers can visit Ecare.coj.net or call 630-CITY (630-2489).

The consumer complaints department of the State Attorney's Office often handles issues with home construction. The office works to mediate the problem.

For more information, visit Jacksonville.com, keyword: complaint, or call (904) 630-2075.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation takes complaints electronically at www.myflorida.com/dbpr (click on "File a Complaint") or by phone at (850) 487-1395.

Q: What if I need a lawyer?
If litigation seems like the only option, you can call the Jacksonville Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service at (904) 399-5780. The service typically costs $50 for a 30-minute consultation.

Q: How do I lobby for changes in condo law?
In 2004, the Legislature created the Advisory Council on Condominiums to take public input and recommend changes in condominium law. The council will meet from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Jacksonville Beach City Council Chambers, 11 Third St. N., Jacksonville Beach. The public is welcome to attend.

For details, call Carol Windham of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 488-1631 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: condo advisory.

The public can also e-mail comments to Condominium. AdvisoryCouncil@dbpr.state.fl.us or send a letter to:

Advisory Council on Condominiums
Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes
1940 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee , FL 32399-1032

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