An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published December 11, 2007


What's wrong with a system when a board levies a special assessment to finance litigation against its members?


That's the case in the Paradise Gardens Section III Homeowners Association in Margate. The author of the letter below was very diplomatic, trying to explain the needed legal fees with the need to defend and enforce the governing documents. Whoever wrote the letter was desperately trying to explain the reasons for the need for more legal fees by blaming neighbors "who have chosen to defy numerous complaints their neighbors have sent to the grievances and fines committee."


Paradise Gardens Section III

Homeowners Association



Over the last few years we have had a decrease of Homeowner's participation in the community to support social and fund raising events, such as the cancellation of the Social and Bingo Committees due to the lack of interest by most of the membership. These committees as well as the fines committee help support our ability to operate and pay our expenses. Attendance at HOA meetings are usually about 10% of the community. Therefore, most of the Homeowner's are unaware of what is going on in our community and it's continued rising costs to operate the Association. 


The Homeowners Association has a responsibility to the homeowners of Paradise Gardens Section III to abide by and enforce the Covenants, By-Laws and the Rules and Regulation of Paradise Gardens Section Ill. This past year the HOA has been placed into a position of defending and enforcing our governing documents of which we all agreed to live-by when we moved into this community. However, due to the actions of several homeowners who have chosen to defy numerous complaints their neighbors have sent to the grievances and fines committee, thus compromising our efforts and with no other choice available, has forced the HOA to seek legal counsel to defend and enforce our Covenants. 


Therefore, beginning January 1, 2008 the HOA will impose an assessment of $10.00 a month for a total of $120.00 for the year. This revenue will be used to off-set our legal cost and operating expenses for the Homeowner's Association. The collection of the assessment will begin in March of 2008 and conclude in July of 2008 made payable to the PG III Homeowner's Association. We will provide you with more information in January. We hope that you understand our need to have to do this, because of the ongoing disregard of our community by a few homeowners; it leaves us no other choice. 


The Board of Directors encourages you in 2008 to attend meetings to support and become involved with the community in which you live. We respect your thoughts and suggestions.


Best Wishes and Health for a Happy Holiday Season,

Paradise Gardens Section III

Homeowners Association

Board of Directors


A closer look at the actual facts will reveal that the need for legal funds was caused by the board's need to defend lawsuits and other legal procedures brought against them for what owners claim are violations of governing documents and Florida statutes. When costly lawsuits are fought over inspection of records, production of financial documents and election shenanigans -- just to name a few examples -- it's hardly the fault of the neighbors. These are obviously issues that are caused by actions of the board, not the other way around!


Owners have to be aware that legal actions in homeowners' associations can be costly -- and are always paid by the owners. With Florida lacking homeowners' association statutes that can be easily enforced  -- Florida has no regulatory agency -- the only way to remove a board that wastes money defending its own violations of governing documents and statutes is to recall the board by written petition. 


Make sure you stop a board gone wild -- before your money can be found in the bank accounts of attorneys!