Condo and homeowner associations turning over records to House committee

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Joe Kollin

Published February 17, 2008


Under threat of subpoena, condo and homeowner associations that for years refused to let owners examine their records are turning documents over to a state House committee.

The new House Select Committee on Condominium & Homeowner Association Governance wants to examine the records to help determine if "horror stories" about boards are true and what, if any, new laws are needed to prevent abuses.

"It's amazing how people are starting to surrender their documents and give up information we need for the committee," Chairman Julio Robaina, R- Miami , said Friday. "Were getting information that they have refused to give owners for years."

Two attorneys who represent associations accused the committee of not giving directors enough time to gather documents and for making them drive long distances to public hearings.

"I'm supportive of the rights of people in condos but not supportive of a witch hunt," said Kenneth D Direktor, who heads the condo and homeowner association section of the Becker & Poliakoff law firm.

"They have been given great power, and with great power comes great responsibility," said Donna Berger, executive director of the Community Advocacy Network, an arm of the Katzman & Korr law firm.

The seven-member committee, which held public hearings in Pembroke Pines and Miami Beach during the past three weeks, meets today in Orlando. It then meets in Tampa and will hold its final meeting in Tallahassee on March 3.

Based on witness testimony at the hearings, the committee is "inviting" boards to provide their records at the nearest hearing. When no response is received, Robaina said, second invitations are sent, although by that time the next meeting in some cases is in a city further away. If no response is received again, or the association resists, Robaina asks House Speaker Marco Rubio to issue a subpoena.

So far, he said, 30 to 40 invitations have been sent and most associations have been responding.