Florida, February 15, 2004
By Jan Bergemann

Florida's Homeowners and Condo-Owners received a big gift for Valentine's Day. State Legislators Willing To Fight For Our Rights.

During the talk-show "On The Commons" on Valentine's Day (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW)  House Representative Julio Robaina (Distr.117/Miami) revealed his plans and told talk-show host Shu Bartholomew about the bills being filed at this time for the upcoming legislative session. 

The bill will use most of his recommendations he outlined in his proposal: Proposed Changes to F.S. 718 and F.S. 720  mailed to House Speaker JohnnieByrd on January 21, 2004. Rep. Robaina is the Chairman of the SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION GOVERNANCE . During their hearings the committee members discovered that the problems are even bigger than anticipated and changes are absolutely necessary. Robaina compared some of these associations to "banana republics" and found it amazing that in our time these problems of selective enforcement and prejudice still exist unpunished by our law enforcement.


This bill will include many of the suggestions offered by homeowners' activists throughout the state.  Chief among the suggestions is the creation of an ombudsman’s office. 

"THIS IS WHAT WE WANT!" was the headline of the bullet-sheet CCFJ, Inc. sent to all Florida legislators. This proposal included most of these reforms, absolutely necessary for the welfare of our citizens.

But Representative Julio Robaina asked for the necessary help of Florida's citizens. We definitely will have a serious fight on our hands. Special interests, especially the specialized attorneys, will fight this bill with everything there is. They are definitely the ones who have to lose most by government enforcement of existing laws. Only a well-organized effort by Florida homeowners and condo-owners will help to get this important piece of legislation enacted. So, please help our legislators who are willing to help us. Is that too much to ask?

It is definitely high time that we owners get organized and have our own representation. The industry definitely failed miserably representing our interests.

Attorney Gary Poliakoff, a senior partner of law-firm Becker & Poliakoff in Hollywood, said already that he'll "lobby against those provisions we feel are detrimental to the health of condo communities." 



 Representative Julio Robaina (l.) and CCFJ, Inc. Director Humberto Sanchez.

In my opinion these proposals are absolutely helpful for homeowners and condo-owners, but definitely detrimental to the account statements of these attorneys. They are directed to protect owners against abuses, high cost of litigation and creating checks and balances for all parties involved. No owner should ever forget that! We owners definitely don't profit from many legal fees and lawsuits. We owners bought our homes for our families to live in peace and harmony, not to buy a share of the often high-priced cost of "association politics"!

Florida Developers and Homebuilders should definitely welcome these reforms. Isn't it easier to sell a product that is not flawed by many lawsuits in these associations? The word is getting around -- and more and more potential buyers are refusing to move into these associations after reading the growing number of ugly headlines.

Rep. Robaina made it absolutely clear that there are many good attorneys who are willing to help owners in need against abusive associations. And there are many association boards doing an outstanding job. But there are quite a few who definitely need to be reined in. Don't forget the old saying: "Every good association is only one election away from dictatorship."

Folks, the time for whining, bitching, moaning and groaning is over. Here is your chance to help to get finally the changes enacted that will help you to achieve peace in your neighborhood. Your association budget can concentrate again on maintenance, avoiding the possibility of huge legal fees for all kinds of litigation. Aren’t maintenance and beautification of your neighborhood the reasons why you pay your dues?

Please listen to your fellow owners, not to the hired hands trying to run the show! Or do you ask your cleaning lady how to run your household?

Homeowners and condo-owners in Florida have to organize and finally push for reforms that will give us back the powers in our own neighborhoods. CCFJ, Inc. members will make a concentrated effort to support these bills in Tallahassee. We are collecting donations to create our own voice in Tallahassee. It really is important! So please join our efforts and help us to help the legislators who are willing to help us. Click on the banner below and see how you can help to make this happen. UNITED WE STAND -- DIVIDED WE FALL!
A little help and a small donation can get us a long way. Talk to your neighbors and friends. It is high time that we all get involved and protect what is for most of us the biggest investment we ever make: OUR HOME!