“SHALL” -- THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD!
Published July 28, 2023
It’s important that owners and board
members understand that the word “SHALL”
used in statutes means “MUST”.
Not only since the Florida Legislature
amended FS 718.113, it was clear that it was the association’s
responsibility to take care of maintenance and repair of the
There was always a rule of thumb:
Anything the developer built during the initial construction of
the building was responsibility of the association, anything
added by the unit-owner was responsibility of the owner.
It got confusing when reading the
governing documents of some associations when the documents
claimed that – for example – windows and door were
responsibility of the unit-owner. That even caused specialized
attorneys to come up with very different opinions regarding the
responsibility of maintaining and repairing these elements.
According to many recent media reports
many associations, especially down South, did a horrible job of
maintaining and repairing common elements and – with the new
laws in place – this neglect is now coming back to haunt the
And we can see the result: Owners in
many condo buildings down South are willing to sell the whole
building to developers, knowing full well that they will be
unable to finance the necessary structural repairs.
Owners in other buildings are just
trying to sell their units as fast as possible in order to avoid
being foreclosed upon for non-payment of much increased
maintenance fees and/or special assessments.
I have heard it from many
condo-owners: “I wish we wouldn’t have voted down fully funded
Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice,
's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group.
CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in
associations. He moved to
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
- 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
homeowners and condo owners:
News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.
Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.
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