By Jan Bergemann

Published March 24, 2017

I guess the answer to this question depends on who you ask. In my opinion there are quite a few reasons why the community association system clearly fails the owners, who are left pretty much unprotected against abuse, scams, fraud and embezzlement.

Condominiums are supposedly having the Division as a “watch dog” – but we all know that Division is pretty much useless because it clearly fails to rein in the abusers. Owners sometimes even get the feeling that they are rather protecting the abusers.

Then there is the Board of Directors, equipped with nearly dictatorial powers. And we all know: “Power corrupts – and more power corrupts even more”. Let’s face it: Many of the board members are ill equipped for the task at hand. The system clearly fails to understand that a community association is a serious BUSINESS, often dealing with quite a huge budget. Many of the elected board members have no business experience whatsoever – and it shows. Even well-meaning boards – the ones with no private agenda or ill-will – often sign contracts that clearly shows the total lack of business experience. Millions of owners’ dollars are lost each year due to total incompetence of board members. And it gets even worse when the association has board members with private agendas – or worse.

We often hear that boards should listen to the hired service providers – which leads us to the folks that really profit from the existence of these community associations: Community Association Managers (CAMs) and Attorneys.

But these folks are in it for the money and their advice is very often guided just by this: MONEY!

Many CAMs are ill-equipped and plainly lack the knowledge to really guide the board members, even if being asked for help. Over the years we have seen it only too often: A license is clearly not a sign of knowledge. You wouldn’t believe the nonsense some of the CAMs write by e-mail to board members (I often get copies) – basic knowledge of the issues in question is clearly non-existent – or twisted to fit their purpose.

And then there are the ATTORNEYS. These are the guys who are supposedly equipped with all the legal knowledge to follow the statutes and rules that govern community associations. They all have a BAR license, but sometimes I can’t help getting the feeling that these licenses can be won at the County Fair. Too many of these attorneys are just driven by one motif: BILLING HOURS! Make no mistake: Amending Deed-Restrictions and Bylaws doesn’t cover the office rent. JUICY LAWSUITS DO! We see it over and over again: Attorneys are telling board members who are signing their pay-checks: Don’t worry about ignoring or violating the laws – nothing will really happen to you for not following the statutes and/or rules. And we see – for example – record requests – and presuit mediation demand (FS 720.311) letters – being ignored and the case dragged out by these same attorneys I talked about above. That gives the bad guys even more time to embezzle – or just waste – money belonging to the owners. Too many bad board members and CAMs are using the association attorney as their defense to cover up their wrongdoings, much to the pleasure of these attorneys who write big bills to be paid by the same owners who try to do exactly what the laws and rules require. Too many attorneys act like they are the “private” attorneys of these board members – and not the association attorney who gets paid by all owners of the community. And the Florida BAR clearly fails to rein in the many “BAD APPLES” among these attorneys.

With other words: What’s lacking is serious OVERSIGHT – for all the players involved – and strict PUNISHMENT of all the bad guys.

Remember: I was not talking about the “good” guys who are trying their best to run a good and peaceful community. AND THERE ARE MANY GOOD GUYS!

I was talking about the “BAD GUYS" – the guys who make the system a disaster for owners and who are at fault that the Florida legislature is forced each year to deal with bills trying to improve a system (so far without success) that in my opinion can’t be repaired – no matter how hard you try.

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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues for his own purposes. End of retirement!


CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in Tallahassee - finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.


The organization has two websites to inform interested Florida homeowners and condo owners:

News Website:

Educational Website:

We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all service providers surely have a different interest! We are trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking in Florida !

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