By Jan Bergemann

Published November 17, 2017


How good is a contract if the government allows it to be broken?

That’s exactly the question owners of property in community associations have to ask themselves after some recent rulings and “interpretations of laws” by some government officials.


Never forget: Community associations are based on contract law – and the CC&Rs are the contract.


Well, you – as an owner -- break this contract and you are in deep doo-doo! Over the years we have seen owners losing their homes to foreclosures because they “dared” to violate the deed-restrictions. Often ridiculous matters have led to very expensive lawsuits that bankrupted the owners accused of violating the deed-restrictions. Remember: In Florida’s HOA a fine can turn into a lien and foreclosure.


AND NEVER FORGET: Our society is dying a slow death because our government officials are trying to be “politically correct” – totally ignoring common sense.


In recent years the Feds created rules that clearly allow the existing deed-restrictions of these communities to be broken.


Remember the elderly lady who made a few bucks on the side by giving piano lessons in her home in a HOA? She was sued by the HOA and paid dearly for “running a business” inside the HOA.


But here come the Feds -- and allow so-called “sober houses” to be run inside these HOAs, even if the deed-restrictions clearly disallow businesses. And a “sober house” is a business, even if it’s incorporated as a Not-For-Profit corporation. This has created serious problems in some associations, lawsuits are flying and the police has been busy dealing with the issues. Do you think it’s a good idea to allow a “sober house” full of addicts to sit in the middle of a family-orientated homeowners’ association?


And then there is the hot dispute about “emotional support animals”. It has turned quite a few NO-PET communities into a circus – much to the pleasure of attorneys who make lots of money from the lawsuits being filed over these “pets.” Make no mistake: There is a huge difference between “service animals” – like seeing-eye dogs – and emotional support animals that have no training whatsoever. I love pets – we have four cats – but if you buy into a NO-PET community you should honor the rules. Many people moved into a NO-PET community for a reason – starting with allergies for example.


With other words: According to our government officials it’s ok for owners to suffer from their serious allergies so one neighbor can keep his squirrel he calls an “emotional support animal”?


The list goes on: Now that Airbnb is pushing, short-term rentals are going to be allowed, even in communities that have serious rental restrictions? Here is the joke: In a HOA in Central Florida a homeowner got fined $1,000.00 for parking in his drive-way. He paid to avoid an expensive lawsuit. A few weeks later a homeowner rented his home through Airbnb to a couple that used the house for a weekend party. Lots of cars were parked all over the place, even blocking some streets in the community. Now what? Should the HOA fine the homeowner who rented out his home multiple times for parking regulations? According to neighbors the fine should be minimum $ 28,000.00 – $ 1,000.00 for each car parked in violation of the deed-restrictions.


Remember the statutes saying that a convicted felon can’t serve on the board until his civil rights are restored? Well: According to latest rulings from the Feds a felon is not necessarily a felon. An association has to check if the convicted felon may have been rehabilitated in the meanwhile before allowing the statute to take effect. How to do that? I honestly don’t know! And I doubt our government officials know how to follow their rules.


These federal regulations actually destroy the general idea of community associations ruled by contract. And these rules made by our government definitely destroy property values – not a white fence or an elderly lady giving piano lessons.


No matter if you like community associations – or the idea of it. A rule is a rule – and a person buying into a community with deed-restrictions should be able to rely on the restrictions created by the initial contract – no matter if some government officials want to be politically correct!

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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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