By Jan Bergemann

Published November 9, 2012


Screening may seem like a good idea – helping to keep the disreputable people out of your community – but it may also empty your bank account – if it isn’t done correctly.


Make no mistake, not every association has the right to screen and even reject possible new owners and/or renters.


Before you even consider making such a move, please make sure that your governing documents give you the right to do so.


Before you even start telling possible owners/renters that they are not welcome in your nice community, make sure that you have fool-proof guidelines in place – in writing and written with common sense. Absolutely avoid vague wording – make sure there are no IFs, BUTs and MAYBEs in the wording of these guidelines.


You are closely watched by the guard dogs of Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities Act – and violations can be very costly.


I will never forget the story of the condo president who greeted a potential condo buyer (the offer was all cash) with the words: “Sir, we are a good Jewish community and we are not very fond of Hispanics!”

The result of this statement: The seller lost a buyer and all neighbors had to pay their fair share to pay for the legal fees and the penalty after the Hispanic filed a lawsuit.


And never forget: Screening is meant to keep bad neighbors out of your community. It’s not meant as a source of extra income. The charge is limited to $100 for each application. I got once a complaint from a homeowner (military) who needed to rent out his home because he was sent abroad. The board rejected his first four potential renters – and charged $100 for each screening. The fifth candidate finally passed – and the owner was out $500. He asked other owners in that community – and found out that this was a pattern the board commonly used to add to the association income.


In this case there was no big lawsuit. But the owners, after finding out about the “tricks” of the board, initiated a recall and removed the board of directors. Still better than paying for a juicy lawsuit!

But if you still feel that screening will be good for the community -- and you have created all the necessary guidelines, please don’t let the CAM do the interview and run the show. It may be more convenient for the members of the board, but the liability still stays with the association – especially if the CAM makes serious mistakes and asks the wrong questions.


Screening may be an asset for the community – if done correctly, but it is a huge liability if the folks in charge don’t know what the heck they are doing. It’s a very touchy job!

All fields are mandatory!

Select your rating:           



characters left

Powered by Citricle

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: 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 in Florida !

Join the 

CCFJ Email List

For Email Marketing you can trust