New Florida law cracks down on HOA 'dictatorships'

'First Step' legislation goes into effect July 1

ORLANDO,Fla. - Effective Monday July 1 a new H.O.A. reform bill goes into effect essentially ending the run of so called H.O.A "dictatorships" in Florida.

An estimated 2 million homes are currently run by some form of Home Owners Association but until now those HOA's have never registered with the State.

Jan Bergmann a long time champion of H.O.A. reform and head of Cyber Citizens for Justice calls the new law a solid first step towards ending the HOA conflicts.

"Regulation means easy enforcement and that's what is missing," Bergmann says.

Under the new law every H.O.A. in the state must register with the Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation by November 22.

That will lead to a second piece of legislation that will include proposals for an estimated $2 annual fee from home owners and a ban against liens placed on properties when the home owner can't afford HOA fees.

The $2 fee would be used to finance the new HOA office with the DBPR
State Rep. Mark La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, worked closely with Senator Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla, to craft what La Rosa calls an 18 page "common sense" bill.

La Rosa says the legislation "... creates more of a structure for how HOAs are run."

Some of the key concerns addressed include : A home owners right to HOA documents, HOA officers with a criminal past, HOA officers with a financial interest in certain bids and state investigation of complaints against HOA officers and managers.

Still unresolved are the so-called "staggered" elections that keep HOA officers on the job for 3-year terms and husband and wife teams both serving on the board at the same time.

Renata Ward a volunteer HOA president for a 275 manufactured home community in Osceola County says much of the past "yelling and screaming" comes down to residents buying a home in a community without knowing all the facts.

"They don't even know we have documents and the realtors don't even communicate that there is an association with a fee," Ward said.

Helen McKnight, treasurer for the same HOA says "you have to start someplace and this is a start, we know it's not the finished product."

Bergmann, a former member of the state HOA task force under Gov. Jeb Bush, has maintained a web site to chronicle HOA issues and the latest legislative developments.
The website breaks down the "legal speak" for the new HOA legislation.

Bergmann says he applauds the hard work of Hays and La Rosa saying, " we have the start of accountability."

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