I don’t know if any of you heard yet, but a new Florida law has been passed that says:
- Public schools are no longer under an obligation to accept your children.
- Hospitals are under no obligation to treat you or your family medically.
- Florida business establishments can refuse entry to you and your family;
- Restaurants can refuse to serve you and your family.
And…………. neither the schools, the hospitals, the businesses or the restaurants have to provide you with any explanation whatsoever as to why they are refusing to serve you. Of course, they are not allowed to discriminate against you because of your race, religion, nationality, sex or familial status. You have to take them on their word that it has nothing to do with any of these factors.
If this outrages you, then you should have no problem with Broward’s new ordinance which requires associations to simply let families know why they’re not good enough to live in your community. Here is what the new ordinance says:
Within 10 days after its receipt of an application (or any amended application) to purchase or rent a dwelling, the condominium association, homeowners’ association, or cooperative association shall provide the applicant with written acknowledgement of receipt of the application. If the application is incomplete or completed incorrectly, the acknowledgement shall specifically identify each item that needs to be completed or corrected.
I don’t know what world some people live in, but in the world I live in, sellers and buyers sign contracts to purchase real estate. These contracts have important deadlines. Moreover, banks keep loan commitments open for just so long. It’s not unreasonable for an association to take a cursory look at an application and within ten days, simply state that the application is incomplete. Most declarations say that the clock starts for an association to deny someone upon receipt of a completed application. Shouldn’t the applicant have the right to know if that application is complete or not? Should buyers or proposed lessees have to wait forever to eventually be told that the Board hasn’t even looked at the application because it wasn’t complete?
But here is where the true controversy comes in. The new Ordinance goes on to say:
Within 45 days after receipt of a complete application, the association shall either reject or approve the application and shall provide the applicant with written notice of same. If the application is rejected, the written notice must state with specificity each reason for the rejection.
This language has some Board members and some community association attorneys freaking out. Now, instead of association boards hiding behind language in their documents that say they don’t have to give a reason for their rejection, they have to actually tell fellow human beings whey they aren’t good enough to live in the community.
By the way, I was kidding of course about the stores, supermarkets, hospitals and schools having the ability to prevent you from entering and not having to give you a reason for keeping you out I hope you were outraged when you read it though, as you should be. Why is it OK then for community associations to keep people out without providing them any reason whatsoever?
Assuming that associations have the ability in their governing documents to screen and reject people, and the association is using color blind criteria, this new law does not prevent the association from keeping people out of their community based upon poor credit, criminal history, prior foreclosures or evictions or an inability to comply with the governing documents. What it does do however, is prevent associations from hiding behind “we won’t tell you why” clauses in their governing documents as a means of masking intentional discrimination.
As long as Broward County does not use this ordinance as a spring board to overly investigate and punish associations who have rejected applicants without regards to the color of their skin or other illegal discriminatory factors, the ordinance is not a bad thing for associations. I know that if my family and I were rejected by a community association, I would want a valid reason for the rejection. Wouldn’t any human being want to know why they apparently didn’t measure up to the standards in your community? And if that community refused to provide an answer, wouldn’t most anyone tend to believe the decision was based on some form of discrimination? Of course they would. This law gives the association the opportunity to prove that their denials are above board and legitimate. It’s an opportunity to show for certain that they don’t discriminate and all are welcome in their community. It’s a good thing, unless you’re not interested in such an opportunity because your motives may not be as pure as you say they are. Or in the case of some community associations, as pure as you don’t have to say they are.