Over a decade ago The Florida Legislature thought it was a good idea for members of condo and HOA boards to become “certified.” Sounds like a good idea. The problem is that the legislators allowed for two ways to become certified. One way is by going over to your computer and printing a form that is on the DBPR’s website that basically says I read my governing documents and promise to enforce them. You sign the form and you are now certified. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. If you are a director of a condo, the form does not require you to acknowledge the existence of Florida Statute 718. If you are a member of an HOA board the form does not require you to acknowledge the existence of Florida Statute 720. The form is a joke. The procedure is a joke and an embarrassment to The State of Florida. In fact, many associations still have illegal provisions in their governing documents. The current law actually allows you to become certified if you promise to enforce the illegal provisions in your governing documents.
As my kids go back to school today, I’m proud to say that the second way of becoming certified is by taking a course approved by the DBPR. As so many of you now, I am most proud of the fact that I have certified over 20,000 board members throughout the state. Better yet, the attendees love it. They learn about the requirement to fund reserves, Kaufman language, access to records, mandatory financial reporting, the role of the community association manager, legal ways for the board members to vote and hold meetings, preparation of budgets, the importance and hierarchy of your governing documents, rule making, actions of board members that constitute criminal conduct, ways directors can be removed from the board, the Marketable Record Title Act and the importance of preserving your governing documents in an HOA, obligations to maintain insurance, mandatory websites, material alterations, screening, approval and denial of occupants AND SO MUCH MORE.
It is an insult to every director who has been certified by taking a course to allow other directors the ability to get certified by signing a stupid self-serving form. We are now repeatedly learning the hard way throughout our state that lack of knowledge can lead to catastrophic consequences in our communities.
MANDATORY EDUCATION FOR BOARD MEMBERS CAN SAVE LIVES. Florida has always led the way when it came to making community association laws that the rest of the country follows. The State of Florida has the opportunity to become the first state in the country to require that directors become educated before assuming the incredible responsibilities that come with being in charge of our communities. There is no excuse any longer for a Board member not to take an educational class. Many law firms, like mine, teach the class on-line. A board member never even has to leave his or her home in order to become certified.
I urge the members of The Florida Legislature to amend the condominium, co-op and HOA statutes to remove the ability to become “certified” by signing a form and instead require attendance at an educational course. I already drafted the proposed legislation and it’s ready to be filed. With all my heart, I believe lives can be saved, financial disasters can be avoided and it is in the best interest of the millions of Floridians who live in a community association. Readers: please contact your legislators if you agree.