We all know that condo and HOA board members must get certified within ninety (90) days of getting on to their Board of Directors. Unfortunately however, Florida law allows board members to get certified either by attending an educational course or by signing a ridiculous, silly, self-serving, nonsensical affidavit that says you read your governing documents and promise to enforce them. If you live in a condominium, the affidavit does not require you to say you have read Florida Statute 718. If you live in an HOA, the affidavit does not require you to say you have read Florida Statute 720. In fact, many association documents contain illegal provisions. So leave it to the State of Florida to certify a director who promises to uphold and enforce the illegal provisions contained in their governing documents.
Just a few years ago a Miami Dade County grand jury delivered a blistering report about the state of condominiums in Miami-Dade County. It wasn’t flattering. The grand jury report was on the contrary, a blistering report about just how bad things are in many of our associations. Kickbacks, stealing and conflicts of interest seem to be everywhere. In response to this grand jury finding, The Florida Legislature passed numerous new laws making certain actions a crime. If anyone knows anyone who knows anyone that was arrested under any of these new crimes, let me know because I haven’t heard of anyone. I warned when these laws were passed that the local police departments have murders, rapes and robberies to solve, not election crimes. Sure enough, law enforcement rarely if ever gets involved.
One way that The Florida Legislature could have helped is by mandating that if you want to be a board member you must take an educational class approved by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. There is no requirement under the law that a Board member be an attorney, accountant, contractor, or have any prior experience in association matters of any kind. Yet, when board members are elected or appointed, they are given the keys to the kingdom and are often times in charge of budgets in the seven or eight figures. They need to immediately know some laws, rules, regulations and have a general understanding of their governing documents. When they don’t, money is misspent. Lawsuits happen. Maintenance suffers and ultimately all the unit owners suffer financially. The lawyers do well however.
I have taught the Board Certification educational course to about 20,000 Floridians all across the state. These people wake up early, take time out of their busy lives and all want to become better board members and keep their association out of harm’s way by attending a 3 hour class. It is embarrassing for me to tell them that they were not required to attend today’s class and instead they could have printed out a stupid form off of the internet, signed it, and have become certified to the same extent as if you took this seminar. It’s insane and it’s insane that The Florida Legislature lets this shenanigans and this farce continue.
After having the honor and privilege of practicing in this area of law for 27 years I am delighted that The Florida Bar now recognizes Condominium and Planned Development Law as an area that is complicated and where attorneys themselves can become “certified.” I am honored to be one of a miniscule percentage of attorneys in the state to be certified in this area. Now it’s time for The Florida Legislature to step up to the plate, realize that education must be mandatory and make sure that board members don’t get certified by signing a dumb form. They have to attend a course for a few measly hours before they get to control millions of dollars in cash and real estate and potentially wreck the lives of their fellow owners. If they can’t find the three hours of time to attend the class how are they going to find the time to attend meetings, pass budgets and solve the association’s problems?
If you agree with me, then make your voice heard today. Not tomorrow. Right Now.
Here is the website to find your local Florida Senator and House members: https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find
Send them an e-mail today that says:
“I’m writing to demand that The Florida Legislature remove the ability of officers and directors of community associations to become certified by signing an affidavit. All Florida community association directors and officers must be required to attend an educational course approved by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.”
Let me know when you sent the e-mail and let me know if you receive a response.
I’ll do the same.
What a week it was! Let’s start by thanking everyone who came out to our Condo Craze Board Certification Course in West Palm Beach, Miami and Naples. A great time was had by all. We taught to hundreds of people this week who enthusiastically showed up at 9:00 in the morning to learn condo and HOA law – and it’s great to see so much interest in so many people to learn the law and do the right thing instead of getting certified by signing a stupid affidavit. Or…..Can I say “B.S.” affidavit as the President would say?
KAREN: IF THE PRESIDENT CAN SAY IT – YOU CAN SAY IT.——–DO CERTAIN CITIES DO BETTER IN TERMS OF ATTENDANCE THAN OTHERS? OR WORSE THAN OTHERS?
ERIC: Interesting question ——— and as much as I don’t want to single out one county — I may have no choice here. So our listeners know that a few years ago Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle assemble a grand jury to investigate allegations of crime and self-dealing in Miami Dade condominiums. And in sum, the Grand Jury found that as to Dade County, board members were getting on boards for the purpose of diverting the association’s funds to their private businesses or family owned businesses, that there was crime in our condominiums, that the elections were flawed and that there were lots of problems with condo associations in Miami-Dade county.
KAREN: ISN’T THAT PRECISELY WHY THE FLORIDA LEGISLATUE PASSED ALL OF THOSE NEW LAWS TWO YEARS AGO WHICH:
PUT IN TERM LIMITS,
MADE IT A CRIME TO TAMPER WITH ELECTIONS,
AND REMOVED SOMEBODY FROM THE BOARD IMMEDIATELY IF THEY WERE ARRESTED FOR ANY OF THIS?
ERIC: Exactly. These new law were passed in direct response to what these grand jurors found to be happening in our condos in Miami-Dade. So, if that’s the case —- in what county would you hope to see the largest turn-out of officers and directors at a condo and educational seminar?
KAREN: WELL — OBVIOUSLY MIAMI-DADE COUNTY. APPARENTLY, THEY NEED IT.
ERIC: And Do you know which county routinely has the worst attendance despite having the largest number of condominiums? You guessed it —– Miami-Dade County. Their attendance is deplorable and it’s routine. For example — we had about 100 people at our seminar in Naples. The population of Naples, Florida is 22,000. The population of Miami is 463,000. So Miami has 20x the population of Naples. So if we do the math, if 100 condo directors show up in Naples for a seminar, 2,000 should show up in Miami-Dade. Instead, 60 people show up. That’s right, Naples Florida drew more interest in learning condo and HOA law than Miami-Dade did. Naples almost doubled the attendance of Miami. Broward and Palm Beach always kill Miami in terms of attendance. Even places like Bradenton, Florida get more people than Miami does.
KAREN: SO THE COUNTY THAT NEEDS EDUCATION THE MOST APPARENTLY IS VOLUNTEERING THE LEAST TO GET IT.
ERIC: That’s what I have found again and again and again. And it’s unfortunate. And it’s clear to me that the law needs to be changed and changed immediately. Getting certified by signing that ridiculous affidavit must be removed from the Florida statutes. It can no longer be an option. I’m not saying that you become a condo law genius by taking a 3 hour class — but if you just learn a few things that prevent you from breaking the law – that prevent you from getting your association involved in a lawsuit. It would be a great thing for the unit owners all throughout this state. That is my mission.
KAREN: WHY IS IT THAT DADE COUNTY – DESPITE BEING BLASTED IN THE GRAND JURY REPORT APPARENLY HAS DIRECTORS WHO ARE THE LEAST INTERESTED IN GETTING EDUCATED?
ERIC: I’ll leave that to the condo and HOA owners in Miami-Dade to tell me. For those of you that are listening in Miami Dade County today give us a call on the show — 877-850-8585. Let us know why you think there is apparently a lack of interest in condo and HOA education in Dade County, And….let us know if you think education should be mandatory in order to get certified. Again, that’s 877-850-8585. We’ll be back right after this.