It’s no secret that I always thought it was unfair that condominium owners had the protection of the DBPR in their corner while owners in an HOA did not. For a lousy $4.00 per unit per year, the DBPR provides condominium owners access to arbitrators, free forms, investigators, a question and answer hot line, educational materials and more. Have a complaint against your condo? File a complaint and without charge, it will be investigated by the DBPR. Have that same complaint in an HOA? Hire an attorney and spend thousands.
This year, our bill which would have provided this help to HOA owners was filed in both The Florida Senate and The Florida House. Its first stop was at the Regulated Industries Committee where the following Senators voted against the bill and killed it:
If you live in an HOA I think you want to remember these names in November.
Here is what I cannot figure out though. If these Senators believe that DBPR oversight is so terrible for HOAs, why is it still OK for condominiums? Sure there are some subtle differences, but for all intents and purposes, condominiums are generally built tall and HOAs are generally built wide. It still boils down to many families sharing facilities, roads, driveways, and chipping in for the common expenses. There’s still a Board of Directors elected by the people that live there. They are generally one in the same. If the DBPR is so terrible in the eyes of The Florida Legislature when it comes to HOAs, why not is the same logic applicable to condominiums? I think the simple answer is the fact that each year, condominium owners grossly overpay the DBPR and instead of the excess funds going back to the condominiums, it gets swept into the general fund to the tune of millions of dollars each year. It’s like a little piggy bank on the side for The Florida Legislature to play with.
I’m sure almost all of you know what the Equal Protection Clause of The United States Constitution is. It reads that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”.
It seems to me that condo owners and HOA owners are treated unequally under the law, even though they generally live in the same type of communities. Condo owners are required to pay $4.00 per unit per year while HOA owners don’t have to pay a thing. Worse yet, the funds paid by the condo owners don’t even go back to the people who paid it. It is certainly an extra tax paid by condo unit owners that HOA owners don’t have to pay.
Since everyone is not being treated equally, and the Florida Legislature doesn’t want to allow the DBPR to assist HOAs, but still wants the ability to pillage the funds paid by condo owners, I think it’s time to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of it all. We need some condo associations to come forward and say enough is enough. Either all owners in community associations pay, or none of us pay. And when we pay, it needs to get spent on us and not swept up into the general fund for other pet projects of The Florida Legislature.
If The Florida Legislature thinks the DBPR is a bad thing and that it’s a good idea to clog up the courts with lawsuits, rather than have arbitrators hear these condominium and HOA disputes, let’s give them what they want. Let’s do away with the DBPR completely for associations just like HOAs
So, if any Florida condominium association Boards are tired of footing the bill, give me a call and maybe we can shake things up a bit by filing a lawsuit against the state. And if we win, and lots of good people at the DBPR are out of work and lots of condo owners suddenly need to hire expensive lawyers to fight their associations, so be it. In the eyes of The Florida Legislature there’s nothing wrong with any of that, as long as HOA owners don’t have to pay $4.00 per year all is good. We’ll see about that.