To say that this was an active year for condo legislation is certainly an understatement. A vigorous effort was made to combat shenanigans and outright criminal behavior by condo boards throughout the state. As we know, the impetus for this action was a report by a Miami Dade Grand Jury which basically concluded that many condo boards in Dade County are corrupt in one way or another and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has done little to nothing to help.
As a result of the Grand Jury report, legislation was drafted, committee meetings were held in both The Florida House of Representatives and The Florida Senate, House Bill 1237 was passed and the bill was signed by Governor Scott. It all happened relatively quickly. Some legislation, like the new estoppel laws, take years to get through The Florida Legislature. Not this new crime bill though. In a few months, it was over from start to finish. Apparently, the members of The Florida Legislature believed that condominium owners need the protection of these new laws right now.
It’s a good thing owners living in HOAs don’t need the same protection. How lucky are HOA members that they all live in communities where election fraud and ballot tampering never occur, where all board members disclose all conflicts of interest, where no insiders have their family members make a buck off the association and where records requests are always answered lickety-split? It’s just Shangri-La 24/7.
The problem is that the news reports I read and cases I actually work on, often times make it seem like the problems in our condominium communities exist equally as much in our HOA communities. Apparently, and you may not believe this, I understand that an occasional election is called into question in an HOA, a director has been known to gamble away the operating account, and records aren’t provided in order to conceal evidence that the funds are now missing.
Our Florida Legislators are smart enough to realize that it makes zero sense not to turn the condo crime bill into the HOA crime bill next year. There simply is no justification for not doing so. If they don’t, it would necessarily mean that they believe HOAs simply are immune to the perils that face condo members. I know they don’t believe that. They can’t. So have patience for another year. And in the mean time, get on the phone, send e-mails and write letters to your representatives demanding the same respect your condo friends received.