By Jan Bergemann

Published November 2, 2012


To be very honest, I am at a total loss when I look at the HOA Act the Florida legislature created with FS 720. Sometimes I wonder why they created this statute at all, considering that the provisions contained in this statute have no teeth -- and it is widely known that even the best laws are useless without any proper enforcement tools.


The history of FS 720 clearly shows that enforcement of its provisions is only possible for homeowners who have lots of spare change in their pockets.


The biggest “joke” in the statutes is one sentence. Many good families lost their homes and life savings because the following sentence headlines the whole Florida HOA Act:


FS 720.302(2) The Legislature recognizes that it is not in the best interest of homeowners' associations or the individual association members thereof to create or impose a bureau or other agency of state government to regulate the affairs of homeowners' associations.


In all honesty, the only ones served by this sentence are specialized attorneys and their bank accounts – to the detriment of the homeowners living in these community associations.


While the FLORIDA CONDO ACT (FS718) has many detailed provisions that can be partially and easily enforced by a regulatory agency (Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes), approximately 2.5 million homeowners living and/or owning property in these homeowners’ associations are treated like unwanted stepchildren by the Florida legislature.


With the existing, unenforceable statutes in place, it’s a financially risky proposition for retirees and investors to buy property within these communities. Homeowners are left to fight for themselves with no help to enforce the existing laws.


Simple matters, such as elections, record requests or financial issues, turn into expensive lawsuits that can quickly become monsters eating up families’ life savings. Many homeowners run around with blinders, ignoring permanent violations of Florida statutes, because they don’t want to risk spending their last dime on legal bills.


The proper legislation that would make life in homeowners’ associations much easier – and less expensive – is in place, but only for condominium associations.


The provisions contained in FS 720 are stacked against the homeowners, especially since in many associations budget shortfalls caused by unpaid dues and/or foreclosures are causing heavy financials burdens on the owners still paying their dues.


High legal bills are creating an even bigger hardship on the owners still paying the ever-increasing assessments, caused by the fact that the provisions contained in the HOA Act FS 720 provide no easy solutions for simple disputes.


The question that baffles everyone: Why is the Florida legislature unwilling to enact simple laws that would stop most of these shenanigans we are all reading about daily in the media? The established wording from the condo statutes could easily be used for the HOA statutes. Case law and the Florida Administrative Code is in place.  Nobody has to reinvent the wheel.


But who fights these bills that would simplify life in HOAs in Florida? The only feasible explanation: The service providers, especially the attorneys that claim to lobby for the associations. They are the only ones who benefit from these useless HOA statutes.


It is definitely easier to fleece the owners if the laws are confusing and can be interpreted any way anybody wants. With the statutes for HOAs it is very easy to create mini-dictatorships and fill their own pockets – if some determined folks so desire. Is that what the folks who “invented” homeowners’ associations had in mind when they created these communities?

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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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