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Subject: Florida-who enforces statutes when HOA board violates them?
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DonH
(Florida)

Posts:9


10/16/2006 9:00 AM  
Palm Beach County - Sandtree HOA. Our new board this year has broken several Florida statutes and policies within our own governing documents. When "called out" in a meeting the board's response was to have a special meeting to discuss the illegal activities. They then decided amongst themselves not to show up for the special meeting they called - thus wasting all our time showing up. Then they voted at the next monthly meeting to "forget the issue and sweep it under the rug". I have tried to find out what state agency investigates or is responsible for investigation of illegal activities of not-for-profit corporations which is what Florida HOA's are. The board has decided none of the homeowners can afford to sue the HOA so they are not worried about what is lawful. Any help out there for this? IE: Bribes to homeowners for proxy votes-which were paid off using Association funds without approval; board members holding office when they have liens against them for thousands of dollars in fees - then holding and using "general proxies" to vote in their own new board; raising assessments without proper notice; failing to assure proper dumping and storage of trash...it goes on and on.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


10/16/2006 11:31 AM  
Don, based on the irregularities you have posted I would check the By-laws and call a special members meeting to replace those Board members who can not account for their improper activities. I have posted on the procedures to use several times on this board.
LizJ
(Florida)

Posts:34


10/16/2006 12:07 PM  
Don - I am not giving you professional advice. I am just a homeowner and member of an HOA board that hasn't yet found a rule they can't ignore or break! I will share what I have learned by my own dogged research over the past 12 months for what it is worth.

Start with FL Statutes Ch. 720.311 Dispute Resolutions. I believe Chapter 720 creates a mandatory mediation and arbitration program under the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes within the Department of Business Regulation. I researched this at one time, and called the local DBR office, but as I recall, there may be some "glitch" like the legislature gave the Department the duty, but they didn't provide funding or regulations or something that may prevent them from taking prompt action. Start with Department of Business Regulation. Also check out www.MyFlorida.com/dbpr/lsc/hoa/forms index.shtml I believe you will find DBR forms there for mandatory mediation or arbitration. NOTE: These methods can only be used for certain types of disputes like amendment of documents, use of common areas, access to public records and meetings of the board. Dispute resolution regarding election problems is handled separately. I am not sure that these resources will cover all your issues, but it is a start and it may get the board members attention if nothing else.
DonH
(Florida)

Posts:9


10/16/2006 12:12 PM  
Posted By RogerB on 10/16/2006 11:31 AM

Don, based on the irregularities you have posted I would check the By-laws and call a special members meeting to replace those Board members who can not account for their improper activities. I have posted on the procedures to use several times on this board.


Last summer we went through the intensive task of doing a recall. Going door to door to obtain signatures we managed to remove 3 of the offending board. By this spring they had reorganized and overthrew the board that had replaced them. Nothing is written that keeps this from happening, and unless they can be held liable for criminal action, nothing will keep this from happening over and over. Many of the owners are going to sell and get out...if the State will not police these "corporation" HOA's how are we to manage it ourselves? Especially when the board our own money to fight us with in court. Too bad we can't post warning signs on the property for new buyers - Beware of the HOA...save that most of the property selling is becoming section 8 rentals...We need MAJOR legislative renovation to protect resident homeowners.
LizJ
(Florida)

Posts:34


10/16/2006 12:37 PM  
how did the offending board overthrow the new board? Wouldn't they have had to do a recall too? Maybe you can get the homeowners who signed the recall petitions to pool resources and hire an attorney.
PaulH
(Florida)

Posts:6


11/12/2006 1:31 PM  
720 is the State Statutes. However, one must take the Board to court. There is no one at the State level in FL that enforces the 720. Hire a lawyer.
That is what we did in Baywinds in West Palm Beach.
Check out our WEB page for additional information.

www.BaywindsLife.com
KathyS
(California)

Posts:145


11/13/2006 8:11 PM  
Paul,

I looked at your website. Unbelievable.

California has no oversight for HOA's either. There are no enforcement policies other than taking the Board to court. The homeowner rarely wins due to all kinds of protections for Board members and adhesion contracts we all signed. Unless it is a civil matter, I wouldn't waste my or the other members of this associations money.

Kathy
GerryC
(Maryland)

Posts:4


11/16/2006 12:26 PM  
Florida is extremely lucky as you have a state agency that oversees condo/homeowner boards and can levy fines as well as provide legal opinions. Check the blue pages in your phone book.

PaulH
(Florida)

Posts:6


11/16/2006 3:21 PM  
Please understand FL does not have an agency to enforce HOAs to perform.
The statute allows one to take a HOA to court. Statute 720 covers HOAs Not condos
Once again if you are really interested about what one can do about a HOA not following the statutes or their own documents, like in Baywinds, read www.BaywindsLife.com
PaulH
(Florida)

Posts:6


11/16/2006 3:21 PM  
Please understand FL does not have an agency to enforce HOAs to perform.
The statute allows one to take a HOA to court. Statute 720 covers HOAs Not condos
Once again if you are really interested about what one can do about a HOA not following the statutes or their own documents, like in Baywinds, read www.BaywindsLife.com
JoeC1
(Florida)

Posts:2


11/17/2006 4:32 PM  
I have somewhat the same problem. I have filed for Mediation, but I don't know if it will achieve anything. I cited the President of Somerset Homeowner of Stuart, of which I am a member, for not letting me speak to a motion that involved my property.

He disallowed me to speak, therefore violatimg Florida State Statute 720. I should not have to spend a dime getting Florida's laws enforced, yet I had to spend $200 to file for mediation.

In addition, the board is compomising on violations of deed resrictions and rules of the association, and we can't do a damn thing about it.
LindaC3


Posts:0


11/17/2006 5:13 PM  
JoeC1-----http://www.myflorida.com/dbpr/os/hot_topics/hoa_taskforce/hoa_final_report.pdf


Go to this web site and you will have a better understanding of when and why Chapter 720 was formulated.It is the HOA TASK FORCE .....The $200.00 fee that you are paying is an administration cost similar to the courts fee for filing of a lawsuit.....I do believe after you read the report you will be enlightened.All of us here in Florida should be on bended knee THANKING our Legistrators for having the GREAT common sense to realize that a problem existed and enacted a Statute to offer us a form of protection from narrow minded power hungry BOD'S................Use the Statute wisely and correctly and most of rememeber to be polite...As I have learned from this forum you will fair better by adopting a proactive attitude vs stooping to their level of thinking.....It works I promise- Keep us informes as to the progress you make or even the lack of progress...Best of luck in your endeavor..LindaC a fellow member for the cause..............
JohnM3
(Florida)

Posts:288


11/19/2006 2:28 PM  
Kathy stop it your killing me? have you ever been on a BOD, do you have any idea what a BOD does? Do you understand sect 720 at all?

Florida law is very restricting it is a knee jerk law put into place by a Demoncrat from Miami who refused to allow any BOD members to speak at any of his 2 hearings. All he knew was they were after his sister cause she did not pay her assoc dues for 1 year and they were trying to take her membership away.Then he sneaks this bill in in the last 3 days the state leg was sitting. He took the best set of hoa laws in the USA and strangeled every hoa in florida.
Example it used to be we give 3 warnings( 30 days apart) on no pay we file lein wait 90 days then forclose and sell at public auction. No more now we have to hire a arbitrator at $350 dollars an hour to decide any case. No hoa has ever won in arbartation. It stinks. Maybe some day we will get a real set of rules from the state.
The reason that the leg did not fund any enforcement issues was most cases belong in civil court, not some politican in The north end of the State telling the opposite end of the state how to run their HOA.

Keep the govt out of our lives dont drag them into it........
JoeC1
(Florida)

Posts:2


11/26/2006 6:17 PM  
Linda, you must be reading into that report something that I'm not. First, please tell me just how I can get the State of Florida to enforce it's ststute 720, which has no appointed regulatory powers. Mediation is a joke, in that all the offending party has to do is simply disagree and walk out without any obligation to follow the State Statutes.

If you can show by sworn statement that I violated any other law, like throwing a rock through your window, the stste will prosecute. I can't get the States Attorney's Office to do anything because they say this particular violation, BOD member violation of Florida State Statute 720, is under the authority of the Land And Sales Department. I have a reply from them to that effect.

Florida Statute 720 is worthless to the homeowner.

GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


11/26/2006 10:51 PM  
You could always get the media involved, a lot of local tv news shows have investigative consumer watchdogs looking to make a name for themselves. If things are really as bad as you claim I would start there. By the way if they have misspent the Association’s money and
breached their fiduciary duty there may criminal charges that can be filed.

But before you do that, take an objective look at your community and your complaints. I know that’s hard to do sometimes when you see what you perceive as a wrong and want it made right. Remember there is almost always more than one side to a story. Were the people voted back on the Board because of chicanery or because the majority of homeowners thought they did a good job?

For you people in Florida if you don’t like the law that protects you (or doesn’t as the case may be) band together and find a sympathetic legislator to write some teeth into the statutes. Think of all the Associations you have in the state writing for reform at the same time. Politicians live to grease the squeaky wheel; especially if they can garner votes at the same time. For instance in Ohio the legislature increased the powers for Associations but at the same time they gave homeowners the right to sue for violations of the CC&R’s and collect damages and their legal fees.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
PaulH
(Florida)

Posts:6


11/27/2006 8:01 AM  
Same old story. State Statute 720 has very might, because one must go the civil court route.

I even contacted the ACLU regarding that Consitutional rights are being violated by HOAs. They did think much of it.

Paul M. Helfgott
2779 Clipper Circle
West Palm Beach Florida 33411-5181
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Randall C. Marshall, Esq.
Florida Bar No. 181765
American Civil Liberties Union
Foundation of Florida, Inc.
4500 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 340
Miami, FL 33137

Dear Attorney Marshall:

First let me thank you for taking the time to review my request and forwarding my case to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Florida, Inc. Palm Beach Chapter in Palm Beach, FL.

Enclosed is the letter I received from James K. Green, ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc.

The letter indicated that the ACLU only takes on those cases that have broad constitutional and civil liberties implications. If I may impose on the ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc. a little bit longer, maybe you could help me understand why the ACLU felt our case did not meet your criteria.

Citizens throughout this country have had and continue to have their constitutional rights and civil liberties violated simply because they purchased their homes in a Planned Urban Development (PUD) community. Cities and counties promote PUDs because these types of communities relieve these local governments from having to provide expensive infrastructure (i.e., roads, utilities, etc.) but then they turn a deaf ear when the constitutional rights and civil liberties of homeowners that live in these HOAs are violated

Professor Frank Askin, law professor at Rutgers University who is the founder of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic and an ACLU member, was successful at getting the New Jersey Superior Court to rule that homeowner associations are “constitutional actors.” According to an ACLU press release (www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/24088prs20060207.html) “Professor Askin described the case as a national landmark, and said that homeowners groups across the country have anxiously awaited the outcome, and would now try to convince other states' courts to emulate New Jersey.” It is because Professor Askin believes that Florida as one of the few states that is likely to be the next battleground state that he referred us to you.

To summarize our situation, a very small group of homeowners was successful at taking away our voting rights, ceasing power without an election and have used and are using the association’s resources to deny our constitutional rights and civil liberties. Through clandestine meetings this group ceased power by doing away with elections and ascending to power by appointment.

When a group of homeowners challenged this through the filing of a Petition for Mediation with the State of Florida as required by statute, this group with the support of its attorney a) refused to allow people to speak in a public meeting, b) threatened to sue the petitioners for $3,500,000 causing many petitioners to have their name removed from the petition, c) told the homeowners NOT to read what was being published on the BaywindsLife website (www.BaywindsLife.com), d) incited the homeowners during a Board meeting to physically attack the petitioners and their supporters (an audio recording of the attorney’s insightful comments is available) to the point where a petitioner was threatened with death, etc.

These are only a few of the many examples that can be provided and backed up by written evidence, eyewitness testimony and audio recordings.

We have already spent thousands of our own dollars pursuing these issues while our attorney from a one-attorney law practice has spent tens of thousands of dollars in time to fight this just cause. The fact that our case does have broad implications has led to the apposing counsel stating that they would use any and all resources at their disposal to win. Given that the association has virtually unlimited funding (i.e., it can assess homeowners for any funding that it needs) while we have very limited resources, it is likely that we will be forced to let them get away with violating our constitutional and civil rights.

From my perspective, it would appear that our case does meet your criteria of having broad constitutional and civil liberties implications. Any information you could provide to help me better understand your conclusion to the contrary would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,




Paul M. Helfgott

With enclosures
Cc James K Green, P.A. Legal Chair
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Florida, Inc. Palm Beach
Chapter

Professor Frank Askin, of the Rutgers Law School in Newark, NJ,
JohnC43
(Florida)

Posts:1


07/20/2011 5:20 PM  
That link goes to FL Dept of Business Professional Regulation...what were you really trying to link to??
DonnaS
(Tennessee)

Posts:5671


07/20/2011 5:29 PM  

John,

This post is from 2006 so I suppose you won't get an answer from anyone on the thread.
SteveJ8
(Florida)

Posts:5


07/20/2011 9:34 PM  
Just to button up the thread. Chapter 720, Florida Statutes has been amended to include a procedure for recalls, including possible arbitration by the Florida Division of Condominiums, Time Shares and Mobile Homes.

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/ARB/RecallGuideHOA.pdf


PennyK
(Florida)

Posts:59


07/21/2011 8:25 PM  
Yes I have done a FL recall and it worked! in our favor
SheriC1


Posts:0


01/29/2012 11:08 PM  
We just collected enough written ballots this weekend to do a recall of the President, Secretary and Treasurer if a HOA in Florida. We've had almost three years of intimidation, theft, dishonesty; so, I organized the recall. Now that we have the votes, we have a regular BOD's meeting on Wednesday. The P, S, and T have NO IDEA what we've done. I am not quite sure how I would/should best serve the ballots. They will not leave and will go kicking and screaming, especially the Treasurer. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle our next move? As well as suggest what to put in our letter to them? Thank you...
S~
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16411


01/30/2012 12:23 AM  
Sheri,

This thread started in 2006.

It's best to start a new thread rather than reactivate an old one.

MaryD13
(Florida)

Posts:1


10/11/2012 11:57 AM  
Dear Paul, I went to your website and read your lawsuit. What is the progress of your lawsuit? We are in Florida also and are having similar problems.
BoyntonL
(Florida)

Posts:19


03/20/2013 7:25 PM  
We are having issues as well. We started a website regarding our board hoping to gain exposure to other homeowners. Any other recommendations?

http://boyntonlakesnorth.tumblr.com
MarleeS
(Florida)

Posts:50


03/21/2013 1:55 AM  
Please, everyone here from Florida go to

http://www.hoareformbill.net/

learn about the 2 HOA reform bills. Write your representatives with your horror stories.

Also, there is the election disbute /Mandatory Binding Arbitration Form Petition available at:

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/

The other opportunity for a challenge/complaint is messy under HOA law.

The best way is to organize with people who feel the same way and start making all illegal and unappropriate actions public.
Find people to run for the Board.
Usually, the only way you will get someone to run is:
They are new and pissed at what is going on.

Good luck....this has to change. Condos have protection, we don't.

StacieA
(Florida)

Posts:1


07/18/2019 12:49 PM  
We've gone through three HOA's at our community. Part of the problem was the property management company and then also certain home owner board members who seemed to be more focused on making their own resume than caring for the community and ensuring everything is completed correctly, including dues paid by homeowners.

We've somehow stabilized and I quit going to the meetings as people were all upset about all of the wrong things. What someone has in their backyard, to me, is nobodys business. However, the common shared areas definitely were and to be sure our monies were being spent wisely was also an issue.

We did into getting a reserve study done to better assess our financial needs and forecast spending which helped to adjust our dues. We are in Jacksonville, and the company that got involved and helped was https://www.reservestudyinstitute.org/. I cannot tell you how much better it was to have a 3rd party who actually does this for a living do this as opposed to a group of board members with no skills in this area.

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3123


07/18/2019 2:54 PM  
Hi, StacieA. Please start a new thread for your question. This one is 13 years old from 2006.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3123


07/18/2019 2:56 PM  
Also, spam is unwelcome here. It seems like you're doing that for the company whose website URL you posted.
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