By Jan Bergemann

Published October 19, 2012


The latest hype in a saving frenzy by association boards seems to be the closing – or partial closing -- of gates in communities that have more than one gate.


But before going into the discussion whether a board has the right to close – or partially close – existing gates, let’s discuss the actual “security” in gated communities.


In my opinion the security in gated communities is totally overrated. The security provided by gates is minimal, considering that most communities don’t have a fence/wall all around the community. Many gated communities can be entered without the use of the gates – even by car. Statistics show that residing in a “gated community” gives many owners a false sense of security. A statistic from New Jersey even showed that the bad guys are targeting gated communities because many owners let their “guard” down, relying on the fact that they live – and pay for security – in a gated community.


A “gated” community creates as well a serious liability for the homeowners owning property within such community – if the security doesn’t work as promised.


Associations had to pay huge amounts of punitive damages after being sued by owners/renters for lack of promised security. The case of Vazquez v. Lago Grande Homeowners Association is just one example.


Gated communities are just another example for “beware what you wish for”!


But once the gates are established and even used to lure potential buyers into buying property in this community, can the board just decide to close these gates – or close them from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. – without a membership vote?
Personally I don’t think so, because the gates are – like amenities – part of the sales gimmicks used to lure potential buyers. People select certain lots because they are close to a gate – especially in big communities. Not being able to use the gate just near your home can cause your gas bill to go up and up and may prolong your trip to work by miles and time. So, how about if your board just votes to close the convenient gate near you without a membership vote? You will be up in arms – and rightfully so. Such decisions should be made by the membership – and not by a few board members who happen to live near the main gate that stays open.

The battle about closing gates will even get worse if the gate in question is the gate used by school kids to reach their school within walking distance – a distance that will turn into a six-mile walk if that gate is closed, forcing kids to walk on busy public roads. And the war is on if the board claiming to close the gate to save money is facing a hostile crowd willing to supply volunteer services to man the gate – free of charge.


That’s the moment when homeowners start to think that this board has different motives to close the gate – not just financial savings. The discussion about this gate may end up as a headline in the local TV newscast and give your community a black-eye:

Students' parents, Brooksville HOA battle over gate


No matter right or wrong, board members should always consider asking the membership to vote on such controversial issues. Dictatorial decisions turn the nicest communities into war zones. And property values in war zones are pretty low – wouldn’t you agree?

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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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