By Jan Bergemann

Published July 31, 2020


Material alterations have caused many board members and owners to suffer from headaches and sleepless nights. Attorneys must love the issue of material alterations, because these two words have caused lots of costly lawsuits, filling the bank accounts of law firms.


In my opinion the Florida community association statutes are very clear on that issue. It consists of two words: MATERIAL – meaning the material used before and after – and ALTERATION – meaning to change the existing material.


For example: If the building has carpet in the hallway and you want to replace the carpet with tile your building undergoes a material alteration.


In my opinion it doesn’t take Einstein to figure this out!


The Florida statutes require a super-majority vote of approval by the membership since many years.


The interpretation of this provision should be guided by common sense. Can you even imagine the stupidity of this scenario?


The board wants to redo the roof of the building, but wants to replace the shingles with a metal roof. Clearly a material alteration! But the board decides to redo the roof now – after conferring with the association law firm -- since hurricane season is starting soon. They forego the vote by the owners and replace the roof using the new material. After the work is finished one owner hates the look of the metal roof and, after many complaints ignored by the board, files a lawsuit accusing the association of violating the Florida statutes by ignoring the provision requiring a vote by the membership to allow a material alteration.


Any judge using common sense – unlike the one in the case Eric had to deal with – will rule in favor of the owner. That would mean that the roof would have to be replaced again – at the expense of the owners. Shouldn’t the board members – or the law firm having given bad advice – be responsible for the cost?


I think it’s time again that we hold people liable for their actions – not always trying to find stupid excuses for ignoring laws and rules.

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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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