Exactly a year ago now the now infamous Miami-Dade Grand Jury report came out that exposed some glaring issues with the DBPR and their role in Florida condominiums. Here is a segment from that report:
The Select Committee heard numerous speakers at its hearings express their frustration with DBPR “delay and inaction.” In fact, the Grand Jury had its issues with the DBPR during its investigation. When we extended our initial invitation to DBPR witnesses to testify, we were notified that General Counsel for DBPR actually challenged our jurisdiction and authority to conduct this investigation. Unlike other public officers and officials who appeared voluntarily, to obtain the appearance of two (2) DBPR investigators we were required to issue subpoenas. Further, all DBPR witnesses who testified were accompanied to the Grand Jury by attorneys sent from Tallahassee. Collectively, their testimony was guarded and strained. Not one DBPR witness offered a criticism or suggestion for improvement of any DBPR practices. Based on our examination of the problems plaguing many Florida community associations, we believe the perceptions on “inaction and delay” in 2008 have become the realities in 2017.
I hate painting an entire Department with a broad brush. As with any agency, office, school, business or law firm, there are going to be workers who bust their butt every day and those who simply wait to pick up a pay check on a Friday. I can tell you that I have personally worked with employees of the DBPR who are driven, hard-working and professional. And I have worked with others who are simply less than that.
The grand jury report found that there are only 33 investigators in the entire state. In regards to the two who testified in front of the grand jury, the report states:
“We observed that both witnesses did not seem to have a firm understanding of their office policies. Curiously and shockingly, both answered numerous questions with “I would have to ask my supervisor” We found their own lack of knowledge about their own policies or their unwillingness to share their knowledge exasperating.”
Instead of investigating complaints, The DBPR complaint process seems designed solely to screen out complaints.
The DBPR failure to demand that its investigators utilize or comprehend basic investigative techniques is breathtaking. There is no requirement of prior investigative experience and no formal investigative training was offered. The investigators learned on the job…
The investigators expressed no eagerness to root out corruption or solve problems, and did not seem empowered to make any independent decisions. Our clear sense was that the investigators were more intent on closing cases than solving them.
You would think that in response to this indictment of the DBPR, there would be some response by the Department to the condominium community it serves. Perhaps it would be something like “We strongly disagree with the findings of the grand jury and work hard to earn your trust every day.” Or, something like, “we are troubled by the findings of the grand jury report and will make the necessary changes in order that we serve all Florida condominium residents to the absolute best of our ability.”
Instead, I have heard no response. And that only lends further credence to the grand jury’s findings that nobody at least at the top really cares one way or the other. In the mean time, you should also know that instead of increasing the number of arbitrators that hear your cases so that justice can be determined quickly, as justice delayed is justice denied, the DBPR now has a total of three or four arbitrators hearing all of the condominium and HOA arbitration cases. The number is woefully inadequate and is causing cases to linger through no fault of the over worked arbitrators.
Of course, your $4.00 per unit is still being collected from all of you every single year. Millions and millions of dollars are collected each year and the number goes up every time another building goes up. Remember, that money is being collected in order to provide you with a DBPR that is there to help.
I have argued in the past for DBPR jurisdiction to extend into HOAs, as HOA members have nobody to complain to when the statutes are violated. The problem is that it appears that condo owners have nobody to complain to as well.