Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
August 1, 2010
With a number of new regulations taking effect, the
state's Condominium Ombudsman Office is beginning to roll out its annual
courses that aim to keep board members and residents informed about their
rights and responsibilities.
The Ombudsman Office offers a variety of classes
focusing on finance, condo board participation, elections and statutes.
"My knowledge [of condo laws] has grown
immensely," said Harriet Higgins, a condo owner from Fort Lauderdale
whose husband is president of the board. "The more knowledge
everyone has, the better it is for everyone."
The interactive classes are supported by the condo
trust fund and take place at Broward Community College's North Campus,
1000 Coconut Creek Blvd., in Coconut Creek.
The cost for each class is $19, and the college
charges for fees and parking. Bill Raphan, the assistant condo ombudsman
and instructor of the classes, said each session averages about 60 people
and that the Ombudsman Office provides students with supplies and
Raphan said his office has received numerous calls
regarding Senate Bill 1196 since it was enacted July 1. Each class will
also cover issues related to the new bill.
Higgins said the classes make a "big
difference" in participants' understanding of the new laws. "You
have to know them," she said.
Jerry Judd, a condo owner in Oakland Park who
recently became president of his board, said there is a lot of conflicting
information regarding the state's condo laws. But after attending a class,
he said he feels more comfortable and is encouraging other residents to
attend. Association meetings run smoother when people know what's going
on, he said.
"The law can be frustrating, and having a
source to go to is very helpful," Judd said.
Before the housing market collapsed and condominium
associations began to struggle financially, board meetings were less
contentious, Fort Lauderdale condo president Nancy Langsdale said.
Now, with the economy lagging, Langsdale said there
is even more confusion and angst in condo communities. She said she once
had to call police to a board meeting and added that her association is
involved in a number of lawsuits.
"People are under pressure, and with the
finances, everybody has problems," she said. "It was easier when
everyone paid [their monthly dues] and there weren't as many
Because of that confusion and anger, Langsdale said
she recommends that residents attend the classes so they can better
understand how condo laws and regulations work and also bring the correct
information to board meetings.
For information on condo classes, call 954-201-7800.