HOUSE PRINCIPLES ANALYSIS:
Provide Limited Government - The bill significantly increases the regulatory responsibilities of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) over homeowners’ associations and, therefore, will require additional funding. The bill creates a new Division of Mandated Properties and a new Advisory Council on Mandated Properties within the DBPR. The bill also increases the investigatory and enforcement responsibilities of the condominium ombudsman.
Ensure Lower Taxes - The bill creates a $4 fee per homeowner association member effective July 1, 2008.
B. EFFECT OF PROPOSED CHANGES: Present Situation:
Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, the Condominium Act (Act) is a comprehensive statute that regulates residential condominium living throughout the state. The Act contains myriad regulations dealing with condominium elections, finances, communication with unit owners, repair and maintenance, and meetings of the condominium’s governing board which is elected from among the condominium’s unit owners. Currently, there are 3 million unit owners spread among 20,000 condominium associations across the State with approximately 70 per cent of these associations located in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe County.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Florida Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes (division) is charged with carrying out this regulatory responsibility under the provisions of the Act. The division’s mission is to provide consumer protection to condominium residents through education, developer disclosure, enforcement, and alternative dispute resolution.
Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, generally describes how homeowner associations (HOA’s) organize and operate themselves. Although the division provides alternative dispute resolution services for residents of HOA’s, no state agency is responsible for regulating HOA’s. Chapter 720 specifically provides that it is the legislature’s intent that HOA’s not be regulated.
Section 718.50151, F.S., establishes the Condominium Advisory Council and generally authorizes the council to gather public input regarding condominium living and advise the division. Since its inception the council has conducted numerous public meetings and received the testimony of hundreds of condominium unit owners.
Sections 718.5011 and 718.5012, F.S., establish the office of the Condominium Ombudsman who is appointed by the Governor and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The principle role of the Ombudsman is to act as a neutral liaison between the division and unit owners in resolving condominium unit owner issues and to provide election monitoring services to condominium associations. Under the current law, the Ombudsman does not “enforce” any provisions of the act, but can recommend that the division take enforcement action with respect to condominium problems encountered or reported to the Ombudsman’s office.
At the present time, there is no advisory council for HOA’s comparable to the Condominium Advisory Council.